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IMAGES & VOICES OF HOPE Award 2012 for YL Director Eric Schneider UNITED NATIONS Online Volunteering Award 2010 for YL Team India 4 x UNESCO status as official project of the UNITED NATIONS Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2014 Member of the National Round Table for the implementation of the decade in Germany Official partner of the UNITED NATIONS Decade for Biodiversity 2011-2020 10,000 online volunteer applications from 70+ nations by July 2012 And still - just a small charity association of cultural creatives with good ideas, lots of passion and almost too much vision. copyright: Youth Leader Magazine 2012
is born from the first global 24h telesummit 'Youth Rising for Peace', which united outstanding young and veteran peacemakers from around the planet, moving through time zones in one hour sessions, each presenting model solutions for the full spectrum of peace, from inner to outer, personal to social and ecological. Registered participants from 112 nations followed a historic event. Such a vibrant and rich collection of first-hand wisdom - shouldn't this get out to the world? I wrote a mail to Phil Hellmich, The Shift Network's Director of Peace, and a few minutes later, the cooperation was fixed. YL would turn the speakers' audios of Youth Rising into lush articles, with powerful impressions of their work, intimate interviews, instant take action opportunities and teaching tips. Short, YL Style. We recruited dozens of new volunteer writers specially for this task. They went through their own life-changing experience. They shed tears over the videos, beauty and courage, discovered what peace truly means. And they achieved conveying the genuine changemaker spirit. Readers, youth, teachers, experts and ordinary citizens from six continents agree. This has to go everywhere!
Volume 1 presents the Speakers of Youth Rising for Peace Volume 2 presents additional articles on the grand changemakers for peace. Fit for replication! This preview shows what's coming. As multimedia-book, ebook, online articles, poster exhibit, youtube cinema and actions. For classrooms. For activists. For You.
DEDICATED to the UNITED NATIONS Decade for a Culture of Peace. web: www.youth-leader.org/peace
Eric Nicolas Schneider YL Founder and Creative Director
This work has become possible with the passionate support from many young people.
A group hug goes to Janhvi Johorey, Hong Wai Ma, Isabel Mendes, Samarpita Mukherjee-Sharma, Payal Bhatnagar, Lucia Hlopkova, Shweta Ramdas, Pitchada Jindasataporn, Ivana Radic, Den Quinsay, Saloni Mathur, Megha Suresh, Rosalisa Thomas, Manaz KV, Fernando Granadino, Ioana Benjamin-Schonberger, Lola Zhang, Smiti Saxena, Ida Soliven, Aarthi Sivaraman, Deniz Ceylan, Brisa Reyes, Kelly Dycus, Bhimashankar Shetkar, Annabel Lim, Krystal Tung, Govind Diwakar... contributing from India, Singapore, Portugal, Slovakia, Thailand, Canada, United States of America, Mexico, Brazil and Germany. We also thank all the contributing speakers from six continents for their open-hearted interaction in putting together works of beauty. We thank the photographers and media for their permission to add their creations to this endeavour. Special thanks go to France. For Elia's artwork. You'll soon see why.
web: email@example.com http://eliak999.wix.com/eliakuhnphotographies
We have achieved a tremendous lot on pure volunteer energy We have created 800 pages of content. We are producing translation to nine languages We are adding teaching tools, posters, educational methods and action alliances, even cross-sectorial distribution networks. We enable every student or teacher to introduce this at school. You'll see 'in the end'. Yet, the complete layout and design are beyond volunteer capacities. We have a fabulous partner in Bright New World Media, but we need to liberate their time. We need $7,000 for the final editing and layout. 800 pages are a lot of work. They come with + 40 Posters + 100 piece Video Collection + YL support status, tools and community for youth. Will you help us make it true?
Contribute to the Publication of YOUTH RISING + Receive a Gift in Return such as - a DVD with the full digital content - a signed digital copy of the book. - access to all webcast recordings of the Summer of Peace - FREE participation in the Cultivating Peace Method Online Course with James O'Dea, former Washington office director of Amnesty International and CEO of the Seva Foundation, Oâ€™Dea is a member of The Evolutionary Leaders Group founded by Deepak Chopra. His most recent book, Creative Stress: A Path for Evolving Souls Living through Personal and Planetary Upheaval (2010), was featured and reviewed in dozens of media outlets.
VISIT US at www.indiegogo.com/youthrising to join and have access to all benefits. Are you interested to invest in a region or language? We are busy translating to Portuguese, Spanish, French, Arabic, German, Russian, Vietnamese and Chinese. Contact us.
We will also mention you in the book, as part of the 'Circle of Friends'.
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Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, former Secretary General of the United Nations, President of the UN Security Council and Head of the UN Decade for a Culture of Peace says that we must not only not act violent, but also rid our thinking of violence. This is where our peacemakers excel. Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. Youth self-image and overcoming depression. Intergenerational dialogue in Hiroshima,
Japan. Healing wounds of mass torture in Cambodia. Overcoming caste systems and establishing youth participation in Nepal. Buddhist spiritual practice. Interfaith dialogue in Jerusalem. Radio and social media during the Arab Spring. Environmental work. Cooperation in progressive sustainable business schools. Peace radio. Child soldier liberation. Empowering homeless street youth. Interfaith mergers. Social Architecture for living cities...
For the full list of speaker bios and links to online articles, visit www.youth-leader.org/peace.html
3 EXCERPTS SAVING LIVES ON HARD TURFS, CHANGING OUR VIEW OF GANG YOUTH. CHICAGO, USA AMEENA MATTHEWS. 'Protecting At-risk Youth' Star of The Interrupters, a spectacular documentary about CeaseFire Chicago, the groundbreaking public health program for reducing street killings. The CeaseFire program is spreading to different cities across the U.S.A., other countries, and should be in yours, as well. CREATING PUBLIC SPACES OF COMPASSION. SOUTH AFRICA NAIMA MCLEAN. 'Healing through Song & Poetry' Famous R&B HipHop vocalist and women's activist, known throughout Southern Africa for her unique capacity of opening audiences' hearts and hidden sorrows through bluntly speaking her own soul and emotions. DEEPLY RE-CONNECTING WITH MOTHER NATURE AND COMMUNITY. PERU NUNA AYNI. 'Sharing Soul, Spirit and Consciousness for Living a Sacred Life in Harmony with Nature' Luz Maria, Fred and Daniel work at multicultural crossroads of ancient tradition and healing ceremonies. Still young, they have already walked the traditional path of initiation and have much to share about applied spirituality and the challenges, the potholes and solutions for walking a life in balance, be it in the city or on the mountain.
These three stories start unfolding our view and understanding that peace is so much more than juts the time between wars. They show that our societies and cultures have much to learn together; from each other's mastery in peacemaking, on the inside and the outside. These even show that proven solutions, trainers and support networks for healing our societies are in place.
Can you imagine the shift in worldview, the understanding of peace, the empowerment from 40 such features? We believe this is the time to tell everyone. To bring these stories to classrooms and living rooms everywhere.
A woman is standing in the middle of a group of rough black men, angrily asking them of the violence, of the killing of an innocent young school boy, who was caught in a violent spat between two rival groups while he was returning back home. A voice loud enough and with an argument strong like a pillar, she looks like a ‘Bond’ in the scene. She now shifts her tone of anger and halts for a while. Her stressed eyebrows soften a little as if they wish to ease this roughness around. The crowd of men with harsh faces now look guilty of what happened. She then throws a glance on their silent faces’, with voice full of reminiscence, “Stop”, she said. This lady is no ordinary person. An ex-gang enforcer and daughter of a notorious gang leader, her history stands in contradiction of what she spoke. But her voice has the same force, a command that has to be followed. Each man was aware of her identity and to whom she belonged, and nobody dare argue or challenge her. The
conviction in voice had its own aura for now she spoke of truth, peace and ‘ceasefire’. The above lines might give a feel as if it has been cropped from an action studded Hollywood saga, where a black woman, the protagonist, saves the society from the hard cruel men who by their looks seem ready to stab you on your one word of resistance. But amazingly, and in reality, this all is REAL. No fiction and no drama. All this happened on the streets of Chicago, streets that have a history of running amok. Her name is Ameena Mattews. Ameena has been with the’ CeaseFire’ for three-and-a-half years as a Senior Violence Interrupter. The mother of four children, she is married to Abdur Rasheed Matthews, an Iman at the Al Haqqani Mosque & Community Center. She grew up in Englewood on the city’s South Side, is the daughter of Jeff Fort, one of the city’s most infamous gang leaders of his time.
In the 1960s, the El Rukns, which were under Fort’s leadership, were seen by some as a catalyst for positive growth in their neighbourhoods. Fort is now serving time in prison for drug trafficking and terrorism charges. He was alleged to have conspired to commit terrorist acts on behalf of Libya in exchange for money Her name comes from an Arabic word, and by no coincidence it means completely as to the kind of person she is…yes, it means
‘peaceful, trustworthy and secure’. She features in a documentary produced by Kartemquin Films, that tells the story of three violence interrupters who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. It examines a year in which Chicago drew national headlines for violence and murder that plagued the city.
"Our job is to get the guys before the police get them," she said. "To get them to understand that, wherever that rage is taking you to, you're going to be sitting in a penitentiary, you're going to be where we were."
In the film, the Interrupters aim to prevent violence a variety of ways: harrowingly mediating conflicts on the ground, performing community outreach endeavours, and to working individually with youth as mentors. They mention their own gang experience and resolve to engage in peaceful conflict resolution in their work. The underlying belief is that violence can be prevented through intervention—that it is learned behaviour that can be influenced by individuals who are personally familiar with similar backgrounds. The film’s message—that people aren’t good and bad and that anyone, regardless of their past, is capable of change—is compelling and comes across as particularly poignant during the month of Ramadan. When Ameena arrives on screen you first notice the patterned headscarf wrapped tightly around her face – a subtle reminder of a faith.
After reading and discovering this unique person, Ameena, its quite natural that the words of a famous reformer
seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal." For Ameena, violence is like a disease. She believes that violence is contagious in a way that it springs up due to lack of education, lack of means, poverty, also because of broken homes and relationships.
and visionary of his times Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. , floats in ones mind the very famous lines that made history, at the time of the bringing of the Emancipation bill.
"We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear... That old law about "an eye for an eye" leaves everybody blind... The time is always right to do the right thing... Peace is not merely a distant goal that we
Her method which is the most impressive leaves a mark on each person who listens to her. It isn’t like a classroom method with lectures or theories or proverbs, the method is simple. Prevent transmission of violence, mediating and conversing with those who suffer with this ‘disease’. In an interview, she once spoke,
"The first thing they'll say [to you] if you come on the block and you haven't lived or walked the walk, [is] 'How can you tell me anything? You don't know how I live. You don't know how I breathe. You don't know anything,'" Matthew says. "And nine times out of ten, these little
A recent report for the United Nations has found that 3,000 of the world’s biggest corporations caused $2.2 trillion of ecocide in 2008 alone. young guysatand girls that I enRead more http://climateandcapitalism.com/?p=1806 counter, they know my father." Gang members who aren't familiar with Matthews or her father will often do research on her before she comes back to talk to them again, she says.
"And when I come back around, the way they look is 'Oh my goodness, what did I do to have this person come and speak to me?'" she says. "It's a door opener."
“We have had 18 shootings in the past 16 days, and 10 of them
When Matthews was heavily involved in gang activities, it was her Muslim faith, her children and grandmother who served as her own violence interrupters, she says. In an interview on Comedy Central’sThe Colbert Report, she described how this violence spreads. She gave personal example, where one on her family members during her childhood days would tell her, that if somebody slaps you, slap him back. The entire thought was although taught to her as a means of self protection but this also she found enough a reason to trigger further violence. Ameena further added that if someday she did slap somebody back then the other party would bring their big family to take the revenge.
„I need everyone from the ages of 13 to 24 to stand up.“
I’m the second oldest daughter of Jeff Ford, and I’m fed up, because each and everyone of you all could be Duke, right
And this, is a DISEASE, it only spreads.
I’ll be real honest with you all,
cause Duke is real,
This path of non-violence was quite insipid and unobvious in those times, and so was its acceptance. But over the years, with its effective pace, and at present with the initiatives of many world organisations, the message is already running in the veins of every young and educated, people who wish to share and learn.
We’ve got the responsibility to break up our community to be vibrant.
“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” -UNESCO To think of Ameena as some serious lady would be unjust, for she isn’t just motivating, strong but also is ready with her wits on. One gets a big smile on face while watching her being interviewed where when she was asked, if Ameeena was an antibody to violence, in no time sporting a witty smile she moved her head and said, ‘Yes’.
Cease the fire, call the truce.“
And further when the interviewer called her jokingly as a white blood cell, she in a jovial mood filled with humour responded back in her Bond style, ‘You know what, I would like to say I am a paper sack brown blood cell’. In the end, there is nothing better to describe the entire feeling, of being peaceful and one.
"I was the chauffeur for Martin Luther King when SCLC made their first venture to the niorth by the way of Chicago. The black community, we were the nobodies, and the civil rights era gave us hope that we could be somebody. How can the president of the United States be a black man. I never thought I’d see that in my lifetime. But while I the president on television and the images of him leading the free world, I’m still burying black kids. It just doesn’t make sense to me.“
by Smiti Saxena, YL Writer, India After knowing so deeply about Ameena, I feel the same tremors that once held my society, the Indians. The independence struggle was a heinous act, with innumerable murders, molestation, slaughter, blood and ultimately, division or say, partition. But the father of nation as he is remembered, Mahatma Gandhi, with his strict obedience to non-violence chartered an entirely new path for millions to follow.
"Where so ever the sun shines, the wind blows, there is an ear to hear, and a mind to conceive, there let the precepts of life be made known, andofi am youand obeylet the maxims truthwatching be honoured ed, let there be music, and let there be Peace". Dave Johnston, guitar player
Ameena and the entire team of Ceasefire are a rare team that works instantly upon the information it gets from its neighbourhood sources. program was launched in Chicago in 1999 by the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. This team is called the ‘Interrupters’. To reach the sensitive spot and stop the rival groups or individuals’ from getting into a fight before the cops nab them is their mission. They believe and have even successfully demonstrated the curbing of violence from fulminating by giving their timely counselling and advice.
The Interrupters tells the moving and surprising stories of three Violence Interrupters who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. From acclaimed director Steve James and bestselling author Alex Kotlowitz, this film is an unusually intimate journey into the stubborn, persistence of violence in our cities. Shot over the course of a year out of Kartemquin Films, The Interrupters captures a period in Chicago when it became a national symbol for the violence in our cities. During that period, the city was besieged by highprofile incidents, most notably the brutal beating of Derrion Albert, a Chicago High School student, whose death was caught on videotape. The film's main subjects work for an innovative organization, CeaseFire, which believes that the spread of violence mimics the spread of infectious diseases, and so the treatment should be similar: Go after the most infected... Released on 2011, Directed by: Steve James.
This work is really tedious since all the action is mainly of prevention. Definitely to remain aware of the happenings of entire city, of lanes and colonies is a tough job. But the credit goes to the coordination and the close team contact they have. A CeaseFire meeting in southwest Chicago. The program stages group interventions in risky neighbourhoods and works with gang members to help decrease shootings and killings.
What is the reason behind such crime acts? A significant amount of street violence is surprisingly casual in character. Men shoot one another in disputes over women, or because they feel they have been "ditched." Simply driving through rival gang territory can be fatal. In the gang world, one shooting can lead to another, starting a cycle of violence that can send neighbourhoods careening. What is the motive behind the program, CeaseFire? Their motive is simple but application involves a lot of sincere efforts, which is to stop the transmission of violence. And as goes the famous proverb, Prevention is better than cure. What made this move a necessity? Uniquely, the members of this group are the people who once ran the roads with their rash ways. Ameena herself was an ex-gang enforcer; one other member of this team had attempted murder and so on. It is more important to realise that inspite of them doing the same in their early age, now with
“Shot in front of his home, listening to the radio. Corey wasn’t in a gang and he was loved by his block.”
determination they want to bring a change.
was into all wrong things ranging from drugs to crime.
As the mahatma had once said, “Before you wish to see the change around, be the change”
She remembers how she grew up in a fatal environment where she was the only young woman; this exposed her to the worst and the ugliest of life experiences very early in age, which after she grew more mature, never wanted to be a part of her world. The sweet childhood which she could never experience made her an estranged youth.
And all of it is stupid. All of it is stupid! Two o’clock in the afternoon when he’s coming home from school and you shoot him. For real!. This is unacceptable to me holding this young man’s obituary.
After becoming a mother, she became more firm about the change she wanted to see not only in her family life but also of many innocents who suffer through this without any help. To every small child, the desire of helping them live a sweet childhood is what transformed her.
“Schools, churches, your mama’s house, your cars – those are safe zones. You all get it?” “Ye.” You all get it? “Yeh.” “You all get it?” “Yeh.” “Good.”
And this is not an easy task, it requires giving up one’s bad habits first which are often addictive and then to stand firm not to repeat it again. This is evident from the very spirit in which this group and Ameena in person works like. It is by their personal experience that they have learned the importance of good family life, of love and peace, of harmony amongst their close associates. It is really heart breaking to have a broken family with one parent either serving sentence in prison or have been murdered, and the other striving hard to get over the rigours of poverty and stress. These people have families which become disillusioned when incidents like this happen. Unfortunately, the damage becomes more engraved and irreparable as the time passes that not only one generation gets adversely affected and afflicted but like a chain, it spreads in the next. Ameena feels this more closely since she was conceived when her father was 16, and he
Apart from this, it required strong people to be a part of this move or else they themselves might have ended becoming a victim. It is like building a concrete dam in the face of strong currents. Keeping in mind the intensity which the dam is required to face, it is therefore necessary to make the foundation and the concrete structure ten times stronger.
”Who does this baby belong to?” “Who does this little shorty belong to? He’s just hanging around you all, right? So he’ll see everything that you all do, right. If this little young brother catches a case and does a hundred years, whose fault is it? Is it his fault?” “It’s our fault.” „You all got it?“ „Yes.“ „Alright. I’m looking to you.“
can lead to a big spark.
Implementation always remains the major concern of any plan be it big or small, and this is definitely the father of all plans which involves life risk. One lenient act and the entire effort is in vain.
So, the team helps in fostering this feeling of love and security in personal relations by making the estranged person sit and spend good time with family. In many cases in Chicago and even elsewhere, the people involved in such sudden crime acts are the ones who have either very strained personal relations or feel neglected from the society.
The work is distributed in two ways. First, a team has been structured which remains on a regular patrol of the sensitive lanes and localities, this depends on the information which it receives from their neighbourhood sources. Secondly, by communicating with the family members of the people who were involved in crime acts and then making both ends meet by spending time with them, hearing to their differences. As Ameena emphasises the need of good family bonding, it is by the way of conversing with families having such past that the team reinstils this sense. If people are happy, they can never be dragged into war or say any provocation. It happens when there is a sense of dissatisfaction which results into anger and then to ‘ego’. And this ego becomes so sensitive that just a small friction
Owing to this, they indulge in illegal activities and associate themselves in the company of ‘bad’ people. Had there been a way that this gap in communication could be bridged, many lives would have been saved from getting into wrong hands and places. Besides community mobilisation, they organise educational campaigns, and services, such as GED programs, anger-management counselling, drug or alcohol treatment, and help finding child care or looking for a job, that can improve the lives of at-risk youth, including gang members. It is never too late to put a right step forward. Ameena works on the same lines and has achieved a considerable success in reducing the number of crime acts from being committed. It’s often a temporary impulse that does a perma-
nent damage, if this is prevented than surely many lives can be reformed. Calculating the difference that CeaseFire made in the crime records. According to the researchers, CeaseFire's impact on gang members and other at-risk street youth ("clients") that the program targeted have been detailed as follows: More than 80 percent of CeaseFire's clients had past arrests, 56 percent had spent more than a day in jail, 20 percent had been to prison, and about 40 percent had been on probation or parole. Most CeaseFire clients had been involved in a gang. Nearly 60 percent had only a grade school education. Many clients said in interviews that they had received significant help from CeaseFire. More than three-fourths of the clients said they needed a job; 87 percent of that group received significant help. Of the 37 percent who said they wanted to get back into school or a GED program, 85 percent said they had received help through the program. Nearly every one of the 34 percent who told the researchers that they wanted help in leaving a gang reported that they had received such guidance. However, although two-thirds of the clients became active in CeaseFire after they had formed a relationship with a
violence interrupter — and indeed, half of them took part in marches and vigils after a shooting occurred in their neighbourhood — 70 percent of the clients were still in a gang when they were interviewed. The researchers therefore found that CeaseFire had a positive influence on these at-risk youth. The program has been duplicated in Baltimore, New Orleans and other cities in the United States, and in Iraq and South Africa as well. The Global Journal ranked Cease Fire as one of the top 100 nongovernmental organizations in the world, and ranked first in violence prevention. This approach deserves more attention and support. Not only does it reduce crime and keep young people out of jails and morgues, it has the promise of changing the very culture that gives rise to violence. Below is a link giving the audio detail of the Impact of violence Interrupters on Chicago neighbourhoods. @ http://nij.ncjrs.gov/multimedia/audionijconf2009-ceasefire.htm
Ceasefire is special in using a scientific approach. And it works. It’s model has spread to several US American cities, to Iraq and Ceasefire has been named one of the 100 most influential organsiations on the planet, ranking number one in violence prevention. Now that’s certainly something to look at. Urgently! There may not be an Ameena everywhere, but with a scientific approach at hand, there’s a lot you can do, and also you can get stakeholders into the boat, investors into community, neighbourhoods and more. Listen to Gary Slutkin explain the science. This is new in human history, and just like smallpox and others have been overcome – not through progress itself but by detecting, understanding and stopping the spreading of the disease. This is behavioural science. In simple words and striking images, Gary will teach you some surprises about yourself. And the people you meet and see and may have judged to this day.
And by the end of this video, you will have a powerful tool in your hand to cease the violence that’s been bugging you in your city. Will you be the changemaker? For sure, the very first thing is to spread THIS brochure, these stories, these videos to your friends, to educators and organisations all across your city. I’m serious. And get a copy of The Interruptors, hold a cinema night! You are going to move things for sure. And let us know about your progress, - we’ll document your path in YL. Since that’s what YL is all about: readers like you who do Take Action. Here’s your recipe, explained.
In 1995, Dr. Slutkin requested leave from WHO to return to the U.S. to work on the violence epidemic in the U.S. He began this work with a 6 month period in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health in 1994, and since 1995 has been working with Chicago leaders, clergy, community, and law enforcement to develop and implement a new strategy for violence reduction.Gary is CeaseFire's Exec. Director. He lectures as Prof. of Epidemiology and International Health at the Univ. of Illinois andhe Chicago School of Public Health.
“I’m a medical doctor, with absolutely no experience in criminal justice.” The large infectious diseases, cholera, typhus, smallpox, plague…, and violence and wars. These are things that have overwhelmed us and our communiteis and our cities throughout history. We have overcome the first ones. The reason was actually not general progress but that were scientifically discovered. At their time they were not considered that they would be surpassed. Also, at the time where these happened, other people would not want to go there, and those people were blamed. But on top of this they were thrown into wells, into dungeons, they were burned. Why were they? Because people didn’t really understand what was going on. Because it was invisible. So people made asusmptions of what was going on.
Plague was a bacteria, transmitted by flea bites, carried on rats. Who knew it? With science we were able to discover it and develop very, very specific strategies to deal with these problems. So here is a situation that can absolutely be considered with the characteristics with the spread of an epidemic.
Yes, it is a massive overwhelming problem. Yes, people don’t want to go there. Yes, it is oppressing our mental and health states. But there is no good and bad. In science ther e is no good and bad. So, from a scientific understanding rather than a judgemental one, what sciences would we apply? Behaviour – since violence is rather a behaviour. Or only a behaviour. Like smoking, sexual etc. And it is formed. So, how are they maintained and how are they maintained. What does the research actually show? As it turned out, most behaviours are largely modelled, unconsciously copied, imitated, followed. In evolution, this avoids and instruction book. We only have to look at the older ones to copy what they are doing. And then comes social pressure. And we continue to watch what we think that other people think what we are supposed to do. You are not actually thinking it through but you are afraid to ignore that norm."
CeaseFire: A public health approach to public safety
About 300 chicago teens face a greater than 20% chance of getting shot within 2 years. This massive ambitious program has started tackling this problem. Who might be next? Probability model based on 500 shooting victims over the past 2 years. Black, poor, male They identified more than 200 teenagers who have a shockingly good chance of being shot within the next two years. Jonathan, project director, admits that „the program isnt perfect but about half the victims who were shot this year were identified by the probability model.“ Right now working with 1,700 teens in risk. Outside school, significantly fewer students have been shot this year. There is massive work to do, and it continues every day.
These are notes from the first seven minutes. I suggest you watch the full 18 minute presentation.
Changing behaviors & norms CeaseFire works to change the thinking on violence at the community-level and for society-at-large. For disproportionately impacted communities violence has come to be accepted as an appropriate— even expected—way to solve conflict. At the street-level we provide tools to resolve conflict in another way. On a larger-scale, the traditional approach to violence has been through a criminal justice lens focusing on prosecution over prevention. This framework views success in terms of clearance rates (those captured and incarcerated after the commission of a crime) and measures prevention through a crime-control perspective often termed in military language (“war on drugs,” war on gangs”). CeaseFire looks to shift the discourse toward the view of violence as a disease and placing the emphasis on finding solutions to end this epidemic.
Gary Slutkin: "Disrupting Violence" from PopTech on Vimeo. http://vimeo.com/11841675
The Interrupters: Lil' Mikey Comes Home from Prison
Cobe Williams, CeaseFire violence interrupter, brings together siblings who have been separated by one young man's incarceration for armed robbery. The only thing he kept saying was he’d like to see his younger brother and his two sisters.
„It’s been a long time, a lot of changes. Two years.“
„How long will daddy be gone?“ „17 years.“
„I ain’t gonna do those things no more. The guy you knew at home was a different guy from the one at home. I don’t want that other one to be a role model to you.“
In July, Chicago area high school students came together at Columbia College Chicago for one of the first public screenings of The Interrupters. They had the opportunity to meet the filmmakers and some of the interrupters featured in the film. Students also had the opportunity to talk about their own experiences with gang violence and how they thought the documentary could best serve the community. â€œHow can we use this film? What impacts do you think this film can make? In particular for people who are living in this area?â€? are the questions raised. To order The Interrupters on DVD or Blu-ray go to http://kartemquin.com/store
0:00 Philip Hellmich All right everyone, welcome back to another incredible session of Youth Rising for Peace Summit. This is Philip Hellmich with The Shift Network and as you know this summit is the first of its kind as every hour, on the hour for 24 hours, we’re travelling around the world introducing young leaders for promoting peace, across the peace continuum from inner to international level or some people like to say from personal peace to ecological peace. Youth Rising for Peace had shown that there is a way for peace to emerge around the world and it is manifested in all countries in multiple sectors of society at the same time, including education, business, environment, military, art, music, poetry, and interest spiritual and so forth.
founder and executive director of the Student Peace Alliance.
And in this session we are going to hear from United States with Aaron Voldman, who will be interviewing Ameena Matthews and Aaron Voldman is the co-
2:00 Aaron Voldman Thank you! Glad to be here. Sure! Ameena Matthews is constantly working
A national alliance of young people advocating for the advancement of peace building public policy. He is a leading advocate of the youth promise act that helps youth violence preferential legislation. Aaron is a proud native Vermonter and a graduate of Van Dyke University where you study politics to philosophy, as well as peace conflict and cold system studies. Now based out of Washington, D.C., Aaron focuses on spiritual activism that advances trans-partisan advertised based policy solutions. He was honored as a peace pioneer by Ben & Jerry’s. Welcome, Aaron! I'm going to pass the Mic over to you. So you can introduce Ameena go ahead and interview her.
at CeaseFire Chicago for quite a few years. She grew up in Englewood. She is the daughter of Jeff Fort, who is a gang leader in Chicago. She is someone who had been on the other side of the peace making line. One time was pretty wrapped up in gangs and violence and yet transformed her life. She is now a leading role model for young people in Chicago, through the CeaseFire Chicago program. She is currently one of the stars of the film, The Interrupters, which has been deeply moving audiences across the country. Me in particular have been deeply moving audiences around the country too. The way that she is so uniquely shows up… In the film, how she does what she does. She recently had cheered on the cold bear report and she also was a Miss Gross on NPR. In the meantime, I would like to personally say how grateful I am for you are here to join us today. How much I admired your courage that you allow cameras to do the intimate work that you do with young people in your community and you are willing to be a face
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for this work that we so desperately need. We need faces like you, voices like yourself, for willing to step out there in the public eyes. I am really grateful that you have been doing that the past few months and you are here to that today. Thank you. 4:00 Ameena Matthews Thank you. Thank you. Very honored to be here. This is well needed to have conversation and to move it greatly to action and change. So I am honored to be here and to be share my experiences and strengthen, how it felt. The way that we react to violent, the way that we have to react to peace and to bring it together to build the bridges from city to city and country to country. Grateful to be here. Thank you. 4:32 Aaron Voldman Thank you! Well..to start, can you tell us more about your peace building work both inside of yourself and in the world, and what inspired you to get involved in this work and to take action? 4:45 – 4:22 Ameena Matthews Yes, well it was a multi-facet of things that got me involved from one, I am a mother and as I started having my children, and being exposed that was one thing was so greatly needed to add a component for me to get out of the mindset that, you know, that violent is a culture and social norm thing. When I
started having my children, I said you know what, I don’t want my kids to be bullied, I don’t want my kids to be faced with walking home from school to be faced with “are you in a gang?” or “do you want to be in a gang?” or “you gotta be in a gang?” I didn’t want that. I didn’t want my kids to be faced with the peer pressure of being the you know, inheritants of my Dad’s so called regime. So I said I gotta do something, and I can’t keep them in a house, and I can’t walk them home forever. They gonna have to be able to spread their wings and be leaders as well. So I was presented with opportunity to come back home to Chicago and when I got back to Chicago, I know that if I had move down South. My son had an opportunity to go to school down South and as a high school and he is a boxer. He got a full scholarship for high school down in Florida. So when we got back home, here to Chicago. I noticed how the street had changed considerably from when I was coming up. I know this town. You know, violent. Chicago is a typically normal street organization, heavy influenced gang, town. From the Italians to the Irish to just the African-American street organization or organization. What I noticed is that, that was so. Pastor mentioned to me that these guys and girls are 13 and 14 years old are killing or being killed and over the most senseless thing that back in the day I would never have thought that it would happen that way.
So it was just like, I said I have to educate these guys and they were doing it in a sign of gangbanging and they were doing in a voice of gangbanging and if you will, I mean that by saying they were killing over little petty personal disputes. Saying they were part of the gang and that just wasn’t the membership of street organization was back then so not to condone that type of behaviour but to educate these young guys about, you guys are not understanding what people have died on the street of Chicago for. You guys are killing and for just senseless things. For just when I had the ear of at least 2, that was profound, two guys and they listened to me and they wanted to know more about how can they keep the peace and what are they doing wrong. How can they get their lives back on track? To me that was so profound, and I said you know what, if I can get 2 guys to listen, I know I can get 2 more guys to listen. I know that they were wanting and they were willing to listen. So I got approached with working for the project of violence prevention, CeaseFire. There was mediation that I had to do. Between these guys, was at an all boys’ school in Chicago. And the mother called saying that my son is gonna go out and he is gonna kill some guys because these guys jumped on her son and her youngest son and stole his gym’s shoes. And his big brother was going to go up to the school and defend his little brother and he just got defended from one of the guards. So when I got a call from James Hismith, someone whom I used to hassle with back in the day. 'We used to be part of the problems, now we
are part of the solutions,' he called. He said, 'I need your help'. And I jumped up to the call of duty and went over to this area that if this guy were have gotten into the shootout it was one of the most busiest street on the south side of Chicago at 2 o’clock or at 2.30 when these kids are getting out of school. I said man, that would be a disaster; it would be a bloodbath. So, I called some guys and asked them to meet me over in this area and we gotta find this little kid. And we found him. He was afraid at first, “Why is Ameena coming to talk to me?” And he felt honoured that I did think about him and his family enough to tell him, “Wait, stop. Look at this another way... because I know you love your brother, and I know that you don’t want anyone to hurt your brother..and he’s been hurt, but you don’t have to hurt anybody else; there’s a way to resolve this with communication”. So as I talked to him, I had someone else talk to the other guys that beat up his brother, and we got them to stand down, and we got this young guy... he said to me – I was asking him about his goals and his dreams – because everybody, regardless of what financial status - everybody dreams. Dreams of getting out of a really bad situation, make their life a little better. So I asked him about his dreams, and he said he wanted to go to college. And the way that this guy looked, you wouldn’t
have thought that he wanted to ever go to college. He said he wanted to go to a historically black college, at that. So I kinda made a deal with him. I told him “We can get this conflict resolved; you wanna get out of Chicago?” And he said yeah, so we got some money up and I sent him down to Atlanta, and he got involved and he’s doing very well in Atlanta. And that conflict was resolved.. That was the first conflict that I did with the project...and there was more before they offered me a position. And even if they would not have offered me a position, I would have still continued the flight to stop this to senseless killing here in Chicago. So that’s how I got a little bit involved, personally as well as I felt that I needed to educate these guys about history and what was going on back in the day. These guys were not educated about what was going on with some of the gang leaders, and what their intent was when they first started at a young age of organising the communities. That’s why I got involved. 14:23 – 15:05 Aaron Voldman You spoke about the shifts, the gangs, now when they are really struggling, the violence itself has become such a focus rather than the gang or the community organizing principles over there. How do you think that happened and what’s going on in our communities right now... that our young people are so stressed and
so hopeless that they’d be willing to pick up a gun and shoot over sneakers, or something like that… 15:06 – 24:02 Ameena Matthews First of all, systematically, let’s start with the household…first of all, especially with the African American and Latino communities... it’s a breakdown of parenting in the household, the structure of the communities, and the parenting... they’re getting younger and they’re not understanding what they’re getting themselves into… so there’s babies raising babies and babies raising babies... as far as the grandparents... so that to me is a disconnect because when people look at a young girl and say she’s 30 years old and she’s a grandmother and automatically people judge and say wow… she must be of this particular status of economics, in this status of community dwelling, and not engage her into any types of help. It's hard being a young parent and hard being a young grandparent... so the breakdown is the communication between the haves and the have-nots within our community. Here in Chicago and in the poverty stricken areas all over the US, really all over the country... and it's not going to get any better until we start understanding that people in the poverty stricken areas didn’t put themselves in that condition. That was the condition that they were born into. And 9 out of 10, they want to get out. And they need to have that door open, that opportunity to get out. The education system here in Chicago – I’ll talk about that for a second..
What’s going on in the ghetto... the community schools are being closed, Aaron, and these community schools are historically known to have views and their opinions... -and they may be African Americans that were raised under different type of views... CPS closed a school near their area and made the kids go all the way across town to another school that has other views, different culture. Kids want to say this is mine..and other kids say no, this is mine, we’ve lived here forever. You can’t come here and take over or you can’t come here and tell us put your views on top of our views... it’s just not going to work that way. So what’s happening in schools here is that these kids are fighting about their views and their culture as opposed to education... and their teachers are not able to teach because they’re so busy refereeing... because of breakdown of the system... there’s 4 or 5 schools in one building... that means there’s an overpopulation of kids. And (only) one building that’s made for a community dwelling... and these kids are frustrated about that. They are angry about that. They say that no one cares about what they think. So now they are left to… One girl told me, 'you know we fight from the time the bell rings to the time the bell rings for first period homeroom... and then we fight until its dismissal... because these guys are not going to come over and take over what
we’ve had here for years.' And they’re talking about kids and this is an education! And if it’s not working then I think the system should look at it again and say look, we made a mistake. Let’s put it back or let’s make it better. And that’s what they are not doing. These kids feel like no one cares about them. It's like people are saying "f**k them" so they have a "f**k it attitude". That’s how they feel and they walk around like that and its sad to say that the grandmothers and grandfathers that are elderly... when they look at a kid and the kid has that type of rage on their face, they are afraid to approach their kid… really what they should do is approach their kid and say, 'what’s wrong? Why are you feeling that way' and that’s all that our youth need. Because they can make their own way. 'We can make our own way. We just want someone to ask', 'what way do you want to go', and that’s what I am dealing with in Chicago. That’s what I am doing with kids here. They just want to change their mindsets, they want someone to say, 'hey look, you don’t have to shoot that gun', and that’s what I do. I change their mind-sets or thinking that the behaviour of shooting and killing someone over a pair of gym shoes or why did you look at my girl or you looked
at my guy or... you told my little sister to shut up or it's just a fist fight and you lost and you come back with a gun and shoot up the whole block…these youth want to know that, 'look I don’t think you are a bad person, so you shouldn’t think that you are a bad person. You are not an animal, and we are not going to live like animals.' And its so profound for me to look at someone’s face, and that light bulb clicks. When I just say something simple as 'just don’t go back over there. You don’t have to shoot. Stand down. If I get the other side to stand down, will you stand down?' And they say 'yeah.' To me there is hope... because if these guys are not willing to listen, or willing to change, it would be nothing that I can say to them. Nothing. But they are willing here to change, they want to change and they have an opportunity. So the system had really broken down... the education system, the healthcare system, the community system. In our community Aaron, if we go to the parks where the guys should be hooping and playing basketball... if we go to the park, you don’t see any basketball rims. So what is it for a guy to do at the park but to talk about mischief and get into some mischief? They’ve taken the basketball rims. And it’s not that the kids have taken the basketball rims down, the Chicago Park District has taken the basketball rims down and not put them back. 24:06 – 24:15 Aaron Voldman You’re saying the Chicago Park actually took
24:16 – 28:00 Ameena Matthews Take for instance, if the net wears out, and it’s worn and torn; they say they’re going to replace it, right? And they never do. They take the whole thing down, and they never come back and replace it. So our guys and girls are left to... nothing. When the summertime comes, it costs 390, almost 400 dollars for one child to participate. And there are Chicago Park Districts in each and every one of our communities. The ghetto, the haves, the have nots. But the price is $400 a kid! Some of these young guys and girls who are left to their own, and want a way to get out, they can’t even utilise the Chicago Park Districts. One, they may be too old – like 14 is too old (laughs), or they can’t afford it. So that’s another thing, a simple thing in our community that is a break down. Education and things that our kids need... the exposure. When I was coming up, the Chicago Park District, we stayed there from 6 in the morning to 6 in the afternoon. We had field trips, we didn’t go too much out of the hood; but they taught us things about our African American heritage, showed us pictures of how downtown Chicago looks. Some of these kids I deal with, these youth between 13 – 25; they haven’t even been to downtown Chicago, Aaron. And you can stand at your corner, and see the Willis tower - well it used to be Sears tower, but they changed it. You
can see the Willis tower from the end of their block; it’s that close. But they can’t leave the boundaries of their community because of safety issues. That’s stagnating kids, so you know, to me that’s just a whole systematic breakdown of what has failed…and I truly say that back in the day I was part of the problem. And now, I’m part of the solution. So it’s fixable. You can say, 'look, it didn’t work. I thought that that was going to work; I thought that that was going to save money.' I’m speaking about the system, you know, they want to save face and say the reason why we shut the schools down, the reason why we asked for so much for Park Districts, the reason why we didn’t put back the rims…but then you can put them back, with a reason. And give these kids an opportunity for exposure. 28:03 – 29:22 Aaron Voldman As you were talking about the young people who haven’t had a chance even to go into downtown, I was amazed at the distance we have in our culture right now. Where’s there’s the haves and the have nots. And on this issue in particular, violence that’s happening in our cities, where there’s such a disconnect in our culture, where so many Americans at one time have said 'Oh, I’m not going to go there, that’s dangerous.' Or, 'Hmm, I don’t know about talking to that guy, that guy looks like a thug.'
So many of us are conscious of safety, and yet I think there’s a fundamental lack of understanding about what’s happening in our communities, where over the last thirty years there’s a culture of mass incarceration in America. We had this idea that there are bad people at the root of this. And what’s special about the film is that it really highlights that this is a behavioural challenge; and these are long standing challenges. Can you speak about how to close this gap in our culture? 29:23 - 35:05 Ameena Matthews Yes, I can. This is what really got me on fire to do more than just say, “You guys, I need you to stand down”. This made me say, “Aaron, if there’s anything you need from me, let me know, I’m there, you’re my brother, we’ve gotta get this out.” Based upon a young black guy’s third grade ISAT test... and that’s a benchmark test to see... when I talk to some educators (and when I say educators I mean teachers), they say that it’s a frivolous test and it should not be tested; it doesn’t mean too much of anything for these kids. But it’s a standard test that these kids have to take in third grade, sixth grade and eigth grade. But based on a black guy’s third grade ISET test and his attendance... because you mentioned the mass incarceration level... based upon his ISET test score; if they’re low, and the kid’s attendance, that’s when they start preparing to build penitentiaries.
They don’t just build penitentiaries because we got 10 kids over the age of 17 got locked up; we got to have 10 more… no, they have a systematic demise on to see… its a money making network with the penitentiary systems. But it’s based on their education, lack of education, that they’re building penitentiaries, Aaron. And to me it’s a system that is set up for our young guys and girls to fail as opposed to saying look... because we’re looking at how they close the schools down, and they put all these kids in one school – 1500 kids in a school where the capacity may be 250. But they put them in this school and then they say 'Ok fine, you guys are packed in here, but you still have to learn.' But then they’re fighting because they’re so crowded. 'You touched my book bag', 'You stepped on my fresh shoes' or 'You looked at my girl'... so these kids get frustrated – either they drop out, they don’t excel, and if they’re on the streets of Chicago, they get locked up. They get so many juvenile cases, they age out, they’re into the penitentiary status. So to me, it’s a cycle that’s’ leading them to a demise. That’s why it’s so important that the work that we do is to let them know 'Hey look, don’t fall for that trick. There’s institutions that want to help you other than the penitentiary system.
There’s people that want to help you, just say that you want to be helped.' And that’s what changes the mindset of these guys and these girls... because the Women Illinois Department of Corrections is growing too. It’s almost as overly populated as the men. And we have to let these people know that this is the system that has been designed, set up in the 70s and 60s for this to happen! And that’s what we do, once we effuse them from that moment, wanting to shoot someone, wanting to kill someone, 'I want to go out and change their world for the negative drastically'. Once we talk them down, once I do that, then I’m able to educate them about what the design is for our population of the have nots. I’m an African American sister, and it’s profoundly stagnating to me; but I’m looking all across the board at our poverty stricken Latinos, at our poverty stricken Caucasian brothers and sisters. It’s a design that has been set up for our brothers and sisters to fail. 35:08 – 36:23 Aaron Voldman It’s seems that to create change on the one hand it's essential for us to work together across communities to call out these systems that have set us up to fail; to change those. And on the other hand, you’re doing the work that you’re doing in Chicago, where
you’re working with all of these systems, and one by one trying to work with young people and really challenge them to be conscious of what they’re in, and plug into being a part of making it better. I was really struck in that film; they had those names of young people on the wall who had passed on; been killed; and it zoomed in on one young person who had written, “I’m next”, and the young people in these communities, they must expect to die by a certain age that’s far below the rest of us. Can you talk more about how CeaseFire works to find young people who are this vulnerable place, and engage them to try and plug in? 36:24 – 44:58 Ameena Matthews With CeaseFire, there is professional training, there’s protocol and procedure we have to follow when we’re out there on the street even though to use the street credibility that I was raised in, and to use the street swag. The conversation I’m having with you right now, I would have the conversation with the guys and the girls out in the street, but it would sound a little different – the slang of what I’m saying – so they can understand. As we get in and change their mindsets, we can have a conversation like I’m having with you, because they’ve been changed and exposed. There are components we deal with in Chicago CeaseFire Project and one of the huge components is community mobilisation and community public education.
What that means is that we hit the blocks, and we give them pamphlets. It’s really what CeaseFire is about, and what we do and what we can help you do; the resources that the outreach workers can help you with. So in talking to the community, there may be a grandmother or a great grandmother that says 'Yeah, I’ve got a grandchild who really needs this program. But I doubt if I say anything to them, they’ll want to come and talk to you. So can you come back and talk to them?' 'Absolutely. You just call me when they get back home, and I’ll come back. Or you call me when there’s some tension in the air and I’ll be right there.' Nine times out of ten, I’m half a block away, because we work beats in Chicago. My community, it’s a lot of area to get through, but it’s a very small community – everybody knows everybody. And getting the community involved to let them know that we’re here, we’re on your side and we don’t want your son or daughter to get killed. We work first in to out and then out to in. We work with the families and let them know that if you have a high risk person on your block, in your family, in your household, we want to work with them. And then we also go from the street to the family. And we let the guys and girls know that we’re here to help you guys and to give you the limited resources that we do have; we’re willing
to share those with you. We have a relationship with City College that’s in the Englewood area, and if there’s a guy or girl who wants to get their GED or just wants to take some remedial classes, we can refer them to a professor; the professor will help them go through the channels and getting in. Community mobilisation is a very huge part of getting our guys and girls... the participants, to understand exactly what we do at CeaseFire so there won’t be another name on the wall that you saw. They had a newspaper article a couple of weeks ago that violence is up in Englewood. And violence may be up in Englewood but violence is not up in the beats that we work in. We’re only up in three beats. And I tell you Aaron, we are faced with this so much as well – budget cuts and financial stagnation that we face every, maybe every six months. And guys are laid off, and they can’t work with our population. As I stated earlier in the call, I volunteer... - when I’m laid off, I volunteer. And that means that I’m not getting paid for it. And if I’m not getting paid for it... there’s at least 25, 30 other guys that work with me that are not getting paid. But they are still volunteering. So what we do is we get in, and we saturate the community, and the strong
visibility of us... because we don’t want our guys and girls get locked up. We want to be there when something jumps off. We want to be there to diffuse it. Even if it's gun play – if somebody’s there, and they’re heated and talking about shooting someone, we don’t get in our cars and drive off and then c a l l t h e m ! We g ra b t h e m a n d s ay, 'Look, that’s not the way. If you shoot that person, there’s different scenarios... if you shoot the person and miss, you’re going to get the murder of an innocent person and it's going to drive you crazy for the rest of your life because it was a baby, and if you do hit that person, your conscience is going to kick in – you’re still going to get a murder or attempted murder, and you’re going to realise that you shouldn’t have hurt that person like you did. Or if you get hurt, you’re going to tear up families... It’s not just a personal vendetta, it’s a whole generational vendetta; it’s a whole generational effect from that personal vendetta from what you think that you’re going to be doing.' These are some of the conversations that we have with the guys. It’s not as calm as I’m having it with you, but its effective, and they do listen. We’re proactive. Even though that wall is there, and kids have been killed – every time I see that, my stomach flips. And those areas that those kids come from – we were not working in those areas. We did not have funding to have an office in those areas.
That’s another heartbreaking thing... for me at the end of the day when I look at that area, I think, you know, "I could have made a difference. I should have been there. And that’s one of my struggles. I should have been there. And my support system says well, you can’t be everywhere at the same time. You guys are not allowed to go over in the area you’re not funded for." But sometimes things spill over into other areas, and we have to go over the boundaries of another area so we can stop it. So, that’s how we build relationships. 45:00 – 45:23 Aaron Voldman In the closing moments, I would like to thank you Ameena, for showing up you’ve shown up in Chicago for so many young people there, and how you’re showing up for people around the country; numerous times a day I see people tweeting at you with so much gratitude for the impact you’ve had on their lives, just how you’ve shown up. 45:23 – 46:13 Ameena Matthews Thank you. I was part of the problem you know, and hey, once you know better, you have to do better. Our conversation we’ve had this morning was very good... and my struggle and my journey and my life... it was very disheartening to me when I think about it, and I wouldn’t want it for my children. I wouldn’t want it for anybody’s children.
So I have to educate about what’s going on systematically as well as... we can’t be against each other... I can’t be against my brother, Aaron, its deeper than that... the problem is deeper than that... and we have to educate our guys and girls about that... so I thank you for coming into my world for – it’s been what, 45 minutes already? 46:14 – 46:15 Aaron Voldman It has been. 46:15 – 47:26 Ameena Matthews Wow! Thank you guys so much. And thank you for the work you’re doing to get the information out. To share stories of like… we’re more alike than different – from country to country, city to city, state to state... more alike than different. And its time for us to really band together for the have nots... and let the haves know that we want to be, if not equal, we want to be able to have quality of life so that we can have our world to be peaceful. It’s crazy that we are always faced with war instead of solution. It tears my mind up, I can’t understand that concept. We have to always stay on guard and focus to help; to build peace builders. And thank you so much for our relationship for years. 47:27 – 47:33 Aaron Voldman
And thank you… I have a lot of gratitude, the chance to get to know you over the last few years and to see you keep shining 47:34 – 47:37 Ameena Matthews Thanks Aaron 47:38 – 47:39 Aaron Voldman We’ll be in touch 47:40 – 47:45 Ameena Matthews And God bless everyone from all around the world! I’ll talk to you later? (laughs) 47:46 – 47:47 Aaron Voldman I’ll talk to you soon 47:47 – 47:48 Ameena Matthews Ok. Bye bye. 47:49 - 49:29 Aaron Voldman As I close here, I’d like to invite our listeners to visit youthpromiseaction.org for a few things that you can do to take action to support the work of Ameena and interrupters across the country. The first action is to support the Youth Promise Act. This is legislation that will provide federal funding in the United States to our communities that are struggling the most with youth violence issues. That will convene conversations in communities as to why the violence is happening, and to build on that wisdom in our communities by funding programs that have been demonstrated to stop
violence in our communities by investing in our young people just as CeaseFire Chicago does. I’d also like you to check out ‘The Interrupters’. It will be screening on February 14 on Frontline, starring Ameena. And finally to join the Student Peace Alliance by showing ‘The Interrupters’ in your community between February 24 and the end of March. It's a great opportunity to show the film in your community, since it will be out on DVD, to have a conversation and bring these voices of Ameena and her fellow interrupters into your community and to reflect with your community about what you can do, no matter where you live, to advance peace to support the Youth Promise Act and other efforts.
Snippets from the Ceasefire blog. Violence Prevention is Gaining Momentum as a Public Health IssueJune 29th, 2012Violence Prevention is Gaining Momentum as a Public Health Issue Violence and the fear of violence influence health behaviors. Residents of communities with high levels of violence are less active. They also may have less access to healthy food because grocery stores are unwilling to open businesses in these neighborhoods. Research findings point to a [...] Many U.S. Children Live in “Combat Zones”June 28th, 2012Many U.S. Children Live in “Combat Zones” Many U.S. children today essentially live in “combat zones,” according to Dr. Howard Spivak, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Violence Prevention. Dr. Spivak spoke at a Congressional briefing sponsored by the Congressional Tri-Caucus and the Prevention Institute’s Urban Networks to Increase [...] The Nation on Street Violence as a VirusJune 26th, 2012The Nation on Street Violence as a Virus This month, The Nation reporter Jeff Deeney focuses on the perennial issue of violence in the American communities across the country. He writes: “With summer’s arrival, people flow into the streets of America’s poorest urban neighborhoods. Temperatures rise and tempers get shorter. Old beefs between corner drug crews [...] Mayors Affirm Support for CeaseFire Violence Prevention ModelJune 25th, 2012Mayors Affirm Support for CeaseFire Violence Prevention Model CeaseFire maintained a noticeable presence last week at the United States Conference of Mayors 80th Annual Meeting in Orlando. The nation’s mayors not only adopted a resolution in support of the CeaseFire model, but also heard endorsements from several of their own at a forum on Friday, [...] What’s happening now as you are reading this? Find out at the Ceasefire Chicago website at www.ceasefirechicago.org and www.youtube.com/user/CeaseFireChicago to discover more about their program, how they interact with the public and what's current.
What can we do all do? At school, as a teacher and as class-mates? What happens if we talk to the really angry kids? Will it stop them from getting killed? From ending up in jail? What's do they care about? Make a guess. What changes can happen to their lives? Make a guess. There was Erin, a young, white, ordinary teacher, who one day found herself in room 203, facing a class of kids who each had lost up to 20 friends to gang violence, who had drug habits, carried guns to school, hated reading, and hated that weird English teacher in front of them. She decided she would help them. And now, Erin's known to millions of people. Find out what she did, in this book. Since you might, too!
Beautiful, brave woman. She has strong thoughts and she is not afraid to share them with others, with the world. Listening to and reading her poetry I had a feeling she knows me, and I know her. A strange feeling of sharing common problems, wishes, needs and necessities. I believe it is not just me whom she is able to deeply touch with her words. Like we are all fighting for a greater cause together, Naima in South Africa, another girl in Peru, another in Bangladesh, me in the Balkans. But Naima has succeeded to articulate the global perspective of the need for peace, equality, gender and racial rights, by narrowing down the concept to a smaller scale of South Africa. I wanna hug her!
These were my first thoughts after encountering with the life and work of Naima McLean, a performing artist, writer, poet and vocalist born in New York City and raised in numerous cities across South Africa. Her special style of art „Poetic soul“ as she calls it is a fusion of jazz, R&B, spoken word, and hip hop, among other genres. Her debute album „Things I wish“ was just presented at the Cape Town Jazz festival 2011.
Listening to her music, reading her poems, looking at her videos and pictures inspired me to really look deep down into my inner self, and start reviewing my own life issues and connecting them to hers, then through her to the life issues of the other young women in the world, - in this way creating creating a huge network of shared experience and feeling as human women beings, thus giving rise to a great common spirit, that is uplifting my heart and strengthening my will. As a spirit and will shared by all of us. All of us women sharing these profound and intense feelings.
Naima’s poet performances included tours facilitated by the British Council – Verbalized 2010, Urban Voices International 2009, The African Leadership Conference 2010 in Ethiopia; with Rite 2 Speak, a collective of young female poets that was formed on the 9th August 2004, which Naima founded together with Ameera Patel and Mbali Kgosidintsi Naima starred in one of South Africa’s most watched TV dramas “Generations”. She was recently approached by Levi’s Strauss SA to represent one of the 4 faces of their Believe – Curve ID campaign. www. naimamclean.com.
Would it matter? Should it matter if Naima was white, or in some case if someone else was black? She is so strongly struggling and bravely achieving for this matter not to be relevant. And looking at her, listening to her, my heart knows it is not relevant at all! We are all in a box! Not by our choice.
We should all look at Naima and adopt the concept with which we realize that it is not about us, like it is not about her, but about the perception of others who are forming their attitude on the basis of social structures, instead of humanity. This diversity, into which Naima was born, should be a reason for increased humanity, not for conflicts. Many of us experience this diversity. Whether we live in Brazil, India or some of great metropolis in the world, we all live in melting pots of culture and religion. Diversity is a natural phenomenon that leads to strengthened life vigor, beauty and development of everything on Earth. Diversity should be embraced.
One of Naima’s songs became one of my favorites. Even my mantra for this season. Maybe a consolation, too. The name of the song is “I wish”. How simple it is to realize how similar we are while listening to her wishes and hopes. Although we live in very different circumstances, this doesn’t stop us from having similar desires.
I also wish I never stop wishing! I cannot imagine life without wishing. Isn’t wishing the driving force that keeps us alive? I sincerely thank Naima for this song! For putting my heartfelt thoughts into words. Not just mine, but the aspirations of many, many hearts! If only once the world would be silent and peaceful, maybe we could hear all our hearts beating, and realize that they all beat to the same universal rhythm, that all our wishes rise like one song. Isn’t this good enough reason to calm down, stay in peace and listen? I fully agree with Naima's wish for enough food for her continent, and I wish the same for my continent, , for the people in the Middle East and for every single person that ever feels hungry. The moment that the final notes of „I wish“ trickled through me, I felt like Naima has been my friend for many years. Like she was singing about something that we had talked about many times over morning coffee. Fear can stop you loving. Love can end your fear! So simple, so clear, yet unfortunately lacking in so many places. For nobody knows what reason. And love, not fear, is the ultimate essence of peace! Whenever someone emits love to another, they will respond with love. They start emitting love themselves. The feeling of love increases exponentially. The web of love is created. And if there is only love, there is no reason for fear. And if there is no fear, peace lives is the heart. In theory it seems so simple. We must never stop wishing for this! And train our own capacity for love.
South Africa in the 1990’s was a country going through a contentious transition to democracy; the ethnic majority was overcoming racial segregation and oppression. What began as small tribal protests grew into a nationwide uprising supported by the world community. With this backdrop Naima McLean defined her beliefs and sense of purpose. Most importantly, Naima learned that young people can be powerful drivers of change. And that change starts with the individual and grows into movement of the masses. With this mission she started her lifelong journey to change her world for the better using artistic expression.
models with helping her have a strong sense of self and commitment to a positive life. As a result she stresses the importance of role models for all youth to aid them in defining their lives. She believes that arts have their own ripple effect, particularly with young people. The arts offer a medium that everyone is exposed to and relate to. Therefore it is important that society shape the content in that space to mentor young people; that is where change and healing starts. Naima wishes that this process of mentoring and change was institutionalized into a structure at a young age so each child can become the person he or she wants to become.
Learning the Art of Courage From the Word Go Naima can’t place when she decided to become an artist. It was her default calling from the word go. Creativity was something that she was exposed to at birth. Her father and grandfather were musicians; her mother and grandmother were both artists. These same early family influences were also interested in the political and philosophical changes in South Africa. For her and her family art and politics went hand-in-hand. The medium was the creative arts and the subject was social change. As a child Naima remembers asking her mother to go to night clubs to listen to musicians, poets and artists, specifically on the topics of social commentary. Their messages spoke to her. Her mother brought her to these taboo-forher-age locations to encourage her daughter’s interest and passions. She urged her young daughter to perform and discuss the world around her. For her mother, and so many other family and community influences, Naima is extremely grateful. She credits her role
When Naima first started writing as a teen, she wrote from a place of ideology and concepts rather than her own life experiences. “I was so young, in my early teens, I was writing about the power of women and femininity. It wasn’t something that I really lived.“ Then, at University, she took acting classes and searched for texts that spoke to her. She and her classmates felt that there were no available scripts that told their story. The students were part of the integration process in South Africa, where some people wanted diverse environments while society was being forced to engage with different races and classes for the first time. There were no texts that spoke to that situation because it was new and unique. To feel more connected with their material, Naima and four friends started to write poetic narratives to tell their experiences as African women. Eventually the group formed a collective called Rite 2 Speak, a forum for performing honest and personal spoken word poetry and music. “You were questioning yourself, your audience, your actions, your belief systems, in front of people you saw every day.”
Fortifying your Community During a celebration for Women’s Day in 2004 the group wrote and performed a piece at a performing arts school. Naima found this a very daunting experience. There were open classes so she was especially afraid to perform and be criticized. The piece was titled “Change Begins with Me.” It was so honest that while performing all the performers were all practically weeping. She still believes this was one of the scariest experiences of her life because she was so open and vulnerable. The response was overwhelmingly amazing. Immediately after it was over, she knew performing like this was what she needed to do. “It was like standing at a ledge and you just have to jump. It’s only when you get to the other side that you can jump from joy.” While art has always played a role in Naima’s life, she continues to use it to advocate change because it transcends barriers like gender, race and age. At the best of times one is able to inspire action, emotion and feeling. For Mclean, getting on stage and bearing her soul makes her feel very vulnerable, yet she is extremely passionate about the power of the self and believing in yourself and the power each of us has to achieve what we want. She’s also extremely passionate about reflecting on oneself in both a personal and a social capacity. “I’m constantly trying to break my own boundaries to give people access to the truth of myself. And in so doing I’m allowing the audience to do that in themselves.”
It comes full circle. Naima’s family, friends and role models shaped her beliefs and artistic passion. Now that she has a defined sense of self, she finds it very important to have people who hold her to account for her beliefs. She feels very lucky to be a strong environment of people who always bring her back to the basics. “Sometimes the hardest person to see is yourself. You need others to tell you when you are not as aligned with your beliefs and who you are.” Naima is the first to say she isn’t perfect. In her experience, the minute she starts wondering whether what she is doing is right or wrong there is a problem. Then one needs to have a conversation with yourself and determine where you are and whether you need to change your beliefs or your actions.
Love and Fear: Wildest Dream In Naima’s opinion, there are two primary motivators for people: love and fear. Once a person acknowledges the impact of both emotions he or she is then able to drive them constructively. She tries to let that be the essence of all her material. Now that she has matured professionally, she is used to sharing herself openly but also knows that she always needs to keep pushing her boundaries. She may get over one fear, but something else happens and she develops a new fear. “Whenever I sense a fear around an action, that is my indicator to go ahead and do it. “ “If we tap into our actions out of love and fear we can have healthy conversations about those two spaces, conversations that revolve around peace, hope, hate or discrimination. If we can get to the essence of the things we love and the things we are scared of, and can have constructive conversations and have our actions support those beliefs, I honestly believe that we can change ourselves and in so doing can change our environment. That is the next level of understanding and evolution for young people. “ “We still have a whole life ahead of us. There is too much to do.“
What drives you? “I think I burse in the compensation for the transformation. I am very passionate about young people being involved in activism. And, a lot of the key messages, the fundamental things that I always try to push and I always try to come back to, is that change begins with the individual. It begins with the self. Before one can transform anybody around you, you have to live and be the things you believe. You have to practice the things you preach. And that inevitably has a little effect on your friends, your family, the community, and so forth.
“I’m getting on stage every day baring my soul from personal experiences. I feel very vulnerable at the best of times, because it’s a level of honesty that even I need to break. So, I am constantly trying to break my own boundaries and barriers in order to give people access to the truth of my swap. And in doing so, it allows the audience to do that to themselves in their own personal life. I can’t even tell how many times in the performance I’ve talked about my own story. And half of the people come to me afterwards and say: „Oh my God, that was my story! Thank you for sharing it. You gave me a gift by taking an issue away.“ I think personal merit is one. The first step is accepting your own experiences and your own barriers and your own prejudices. Sharing them is giving honesty to it and allows others to do so.
So, the beginning of transformation and peace and any sort of goals one wants to achieve, one needs to live it. All the time. So that’s my tendency, I am always looking at the individual’s transformation and how that inspires others into action. That they are all the same and I think people seem to confuse the two fundamental things that I think drive human beings in the world, and that is love and fear. And I think people often misunderstand that. All seem to think that love and hate seem to work in people. I think that level below hate is fear. And once we get present to how we are in those two particular spaces, how it makes us act towards ourselves and to other people, the minute we begin to engage and acknowledge the impact of both emotions we are then able to drive it constructively. We’re then able to have a conversation from an honest authentic space around what fundamentally drives human action. In my work I try to let that be in different forms and shapes. I try to let that be the essence of all my material.”
My work pushes me personally, and it allows other people into my personal lawns and so doing allows them to open up and engage whatever issues they may have in their own lives. I mean, I do it as a profession, but I do it in my personal life, as well. I am extremely passionate about believing in yourself beyond what you think is possible for yourself. I am extremely passionate about reflecting on oneself. This is not just in a personal capacity but also in a social capacity and I feel that’s when the healing starts. I wish it was built into some sort of more institutionalized structures and at a very young age because then we would be the type of people we wanted to become. “ Naima at Youth Rising for Peace FREE AUDIO at www.youthrisingforpeace.com
Levi’s Believe and Red for Life Campaigns Mclean is a spokesperson for several causes affecting her native Africa, including Levi’s South Africa Believe campaign. naima was chosen by Levi’s because she personifies Levi’s image: confident, sexy and bold in pursuit of her own success. She embodied Levi’s values of courage, integrity, authenticity and empathy. In her role she has served as an advocate for their HIV/AIDS initiative, Red for Life, where she and 3 other spokeswomen hosted interactive discussion groups on college campuses focusing on the topics of life and love in the time of HIV and AIDS. Addressing the AIDS issue is extremely important because in Africa, HIV prevalence is particularly devastating. Recent studies estimate that 1 in every 4 people are HIV positive in South Africa. The Red for Life campaign stresses that each person is not only responsible for his own actions - for example, wearing condoms and testing regularly for HIV – but also for taking responsibility for helping to create the mind shifts necessary so that the spread is stopped. The campaign, together with musicians and celebrities like Naima, has opened up discussions around the variety of ways there are to "Work it out for yourself". Experts have found AIDS in Africa a difficult cause to fight. Naima feels that a lot of the challenge has to do with the fact that the battle is within each individual person. Each person
must hold him or herself responsible for stopping the spread of HIV and AIDS. She believes this starts with removing the stigma about talking about what happens behind closed doors, in sexual spaces. Public condom and safe sex campaigns are changing what people are saying that they believe. However, there continues to be a need for conversation about why people aren’t using condoms. Too often actions are not consistent with beliefs. She feels that this inconsistency must be addressed openly in venues such as the Red for Life campaign. Unfortunately, South Africa has a long history of social conservatism with respect to sexuality. Holding these public forums was risqué and certain protections had to be in place to ensure privacy and participation in the Red for Life discussions. Due to her experience with Red for Life Naima decided to incorporate open sexual dialogue into her work. “It’s difficult to talk about how to be sexy in a world of HIV Aids. “ Many people find her work shocking. They don’t agree with speaking about intimate topics in a public forum, even if they are thinking and doing the same things privately. But Naima believes having integrity is about acting consistent with your words and your values and therefore tries to be as honest as possible in both her personal life and her work. http://naimamclean.com/gallery/levis-red-for-life/
Inspiring Others to Act Packaging her message remains a challenge for her since she not only wants to share her thoughts but also wants to inspire her audience to take action toward improving their lives and their communities. She finds that it’s easier to talk to others who are involved in the conversation of social change. It’s another story when trying to have a conversation with those who are new to the idea. It’s not that people don’t want to get involved in events going on in their communities, they just need to be encouraged to take the first step. As an artist and advocate for social change she strives to find out what attracts the apathetic listener. She then focuses on creating tools that excite and motivate people. For example, most young people think poetry isn’t interesting. You hear one poem you know them all. Naima and her fellow acting students used to take poetry to the clubs, incorporating acting techniques. Audience members became the characters in their stories. That got people’s attention. People were surprised. Most didn’t even know that there was going to be a performance that evening and few knew that they would become part of it. Suddenly, out of the blue, the audience was involved. The troupe would talk about spicy topics like sexuality, drinking and being vulnerable. This method took away all the preconceived ideas about poetry and opened up another type of listening. By changing the model the group overcame the barriers to the message.
Naima about her motivation for “Up The Sound”. „As a young person involved in the arts I recognised the importance for people such as myself to initiate events that conscientise my contemporaries around the agenda of these 16 Days of activism against women and child abuse. This event is also intended to broaden the scope and reach of the 16 Days through the use of this medium. I saw the potential for live performances as a tool to empower both the audience and the performers as active participants in social transformation. I propose that in our present society popular culture is a powerful means for gender activism. I believe that this event is a stepping stone in the creation of a contemporary movement for young expression and activism through the arts.“
This video was made in 2009 as part of an initiative Naima founded called "Up The Sound" aimed at promoting social activism amongst young people. Directed by Neo Ntlatleng. "No child should be forced to be independent at 20 months I vowed that on that day that she and other African children like her would not walk alone through life and be scarred by our lack of empathy and our failure to provide for innocent children in such desperate need" Thabang Skwambane www.lonelyroad.org www.youtube.com/watch?v=lex0JKsKkx0
Out the box I am Xhosa, Indian of Khoisan decent I am Antigen cuz that’s where my forefathers were sent Slave ships ride tyrant waves and seas, And African American Grandma X is raped by an Irish gent. First breath taken in the city of Manhattan, But again we break the pattern and head south, Where the mouth of my South African root is fed. Bread all the way between Mmabatho and Cape Town, In a house where celebrating Eid and Christmas facilitated common ground, As we throw stones to consult our Ancestors through ritualistic sacrifices, Sipping on holy red wine in the middle of Ramadan, Believe it or not makes me one. One with the sounds of father’s saxophone horn, One with my mother’s nest where my soul was formed, Born into a brewing pot of diversity, 'I claim all of me and the beauty of my humanity. The confliction does not come from the contradiction, But rather the restriction of the box you constantly want to put me in. Judging me because you think I form part of a black elite Which is actually not about me, but a critique on transformed social structures, But would it matter if I where white? Questioning my black because there is a lack of African dialect So you make excuses ‘cause I’m light. Praising me on my well spoken English cuz I’m not like the others But what are you saying about my fellow brothers. Ahoi sista!!! Let’s get Irie high!! Not considering the convenience of not having to relax, perm, braid, blow or die! There’s no profound statement in these locks that consume my head, I just couldn’t be bothered to wear a doek every time I go to bed. I’m drowning in the stigmas attached to being a strong black woman
And I’m tired you see… The acknowledgement of my emotional state takes last priority, Overlooking that my identity encapsulates immense insecurity, And that strength is not mutually exclusive of overflowing rushes of vulnerability. I need someone to cradle me, I need someone to invest in me, I need someone to embrace my vulnerability and not run away from me. I need someone to catch my tears, confront my fears, I’ve needed someone for years, I need someone to engage my being, Nurture the pain that I too am feeling, Look through my eyes and listen to my silent cries The confliction does not come from the contradiction, But rather the restriction of the box you constantly want to put me in. I rise I fall, I have it in the palm of my hand and I lose it all. A solid grip on reality for that moment remains eternally firm, Then wrenched from my perfect dream and my world turns, So I drink my sorrows to numb the pain, Strip Naked and walk that lonely path praying to be soothed by cleansing rains, And finally I’m breaking free!!! Unlocking these chains that suffocate me Music facilitates my poetry, Releasing the realms that exist internally, Creating the space I foresee as guaranteed possibility, Because the truth is I just want you to relate to me, Allowing us to engage our differences on a platform of similarity, simultaneously. The point is I thank you. I thank you for the confliction, I thank you for the contradiction, I thank you for the restriction of this box you constantly put me in. You’ve paved a clearing, Guided this life-long maze, providing me with certainty That standing on this stage I embark on a journey to discover the whole African me
Freedom Day Commercial with original poetry by Naima McLean www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7TbDYHT7Qw
Naima is adamant about the cause of protection of women and children. South Africa and Africa still experience such horrendous violence and abuse of children of women in domestic life, warfare, crime and superstition that Naima calls for 16 days to wake up the nation and awaken for a cultural shift. One day won't do. For Naima, it takes 16. The commercial puts the issue in context of national days. Nice. www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7TbDYHT7Qw
Naima is a perfect example of using media for good causes. Young people are easily influenced, and many people exploit and abuse this. But shouldn’t the power of pop culture be used to educate and awake young people? Naima is trying to do so in her work. And succeeding more and more, I hope with all my soul. Solving the world’s problems is not easy. They are a sum of little everyday life problems of every individual. And more. Simple logic tells us that we can solve problems by breaking them down to smaller simpler challenges, - and start with those. Naima’s mission is somehow exactly that.
seem trivial to some, but humongous to those facing them. And moreover, Naima herself is facing such problems. She travels the path of the wounded healer. She can understand, and shares, and by sharing the problem, she starts solving it for herself and others. Knowing that we are not alone, knowing that someone else is going through the same as we are, gives rise to hope and comfort. Compassion can heal. I am learning ever more about Naima. I knew that an attentive listener offers consolation through compassion, simply by truly listening. I now see, that Naima is creating a space of compassion by singing. A true song
She is dealing with individual problems. She is talking about the Rediscovery. By Naima McLean. love life of an average young women. She is targeting problems which may www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVpBG5qFHjw
It has not always been easy for Naima. Starting from the most superficial of her attributes, it is not easy to be beautiful in today’s world. She is a black and beautiful woman, eclipsing the wrong unhealthy images about colour and gender fof the past. And she’s fighting for a better world, bringing healing to causes of women, of rights, of peace, youth, the arts and culture. If only ten percent of her ideas is fulfilled, this world will be a better place today then yesterday! It is for me. She is so brave! I would like to be friends with Naima McLean. I already am. And now I want to introduce her to all of my friends. I wish the world may stop for a while and listen to the poetry of Naima McLean. Let’s see what happens! What happens to You? Tell me.
Of this magnificient power source of life, of volcano, thundering waves, tender buds, rushing leaves, gigantic schools of fish and lightning? Do you feel a bond of love with every living creature around you? With the rocks, the trees, the stars, every animal and creature walking the Earth. With the two legged, as well? Little newcomer on the planet, - do you know how to live and learn from the Earth and give back for all the gifts that you receive? Imagine a life that is harmonious and in sync with nature, a life where we understand all the wisdom our ancestors have left behind for us mixed with a balance struck with our beloved ecosystem. If we think about it, maybe not at the first go but if we think really hard we would see that our ancestors have so much wisdom to offer and rarely do we employ any of it; the world we live in has provided us a beautiful home but rarely do we give back to the world. â€œWhen I think about how I live my life, I come to the conclusion that everything whizzes by so fast and is clothed in new technology and rapidly changing social ways that sometimes I forget where we come from and what we owe to the world at large. â€œ What we need is a reconnection with Mother Earth. Yet - the wisdom is still there*. In our heart. And if we seek, we find. When we ignite it, it stars thriving. Go for it!
In the reconnection with the Living Universe, inside and outside of us, we find all the Abundance and Peace we can ask for. It's what we are born into. This is what we have lived for three hundred thousand years. Only when we lost our wisdom keepers did we stumble. And all the tech tools and comfort don't make up for it.
And while we've been running romper stomper, hollering and thrashing everything in our lucid quest for advancement, ... our 'best, smartest and wisest' arrive on the summit, and take a first breath of the real thing. Of the air that matters. Unity. In peace with life, and miraculously, with ourselves. Their mind and heart unexplicably calm. At peace.
In these amazing times, when so many places, forms and ideas distant and far apart are appearing and growing together, also the ancient worlds of thinking, wisdom and practice meet with the most recent ideas and knowledge.
They look at the Grandfathers and Grandmothers on that summit who have dwelt in this air for a long time. Some for their entire life. For generations. Since the dawn of human culture. And they have spent their time well, up there.
I don't say the most advanced... because the 'most recent knowledge' starts noticing it has only been running up a hill to find the ancient wisdom keepers on top of the mountain. We have been running. Running to Paradise, to enlightenment, to leaving the cycle of incarnation, to America. We've been running after the dollar, running after stardom, after discovery, into space, into the oceans, into nanotech, after facebook friends, after real time twittering... we discover we have been ... frantic for reconnecting with
So, our 'leading philosophers and scientists' discover there's so much to learn from these ancient Yodas. Because these are not only talking about quantum physics and a multi-connected reality, that there is no death, how to practice mind over matter, how to lead a fulfilling life, being in bliss, how to live sustainably, ... but they are actually living it.
They know the practice. So, our modern philosophers sit down in wonder, and listen. They join the practice. They notice, they are only beginning to learn how to handle for real what they had been thinking about. And you can, too. Should we wonder that it looks different from our wrong path? Well, it has to be. So, our wisest 21st Century smartasses sit down to enter a new learning journey. To learn the language of the Living Universe. But wait - didn't we just mention "the meeting & merging of worlds"? Yes. And there are young people at these crossroads, merging ancient and recent. Meet Luz Maria, Fred and Daniel.
â€œOur intention is to generate consciousness and love for our environment, our ancestral wisdom and our culture. We aim to do this through the development of four main areas: ecology and the environment, culture and the arts, socio-economics and integral health.â€?
Nuna Ayni is about experience. www.youtube.com/watch?v=bY-6jWxFYNU
ABSORB THIS VIDEO. Open yourself fully to the music and images.
Peace. That is what NUNA AYNI aims for. The Non-Profit Organization based in the sacred valley in Cusco, a city in the southeastern part of Peru (Yes! The land of magnificient mountains and condors spiralling in the wind!), offers various workshops, therapies, traditional ceremonies and rituals. The goal is to bring a connection between the ancestral and contemporary by recognizing the responsibility we have to the Earth in our daily lives. The founders want to give the world a vision where we can live in harmony by integrating healing and ecology and the arts through self sustainable ways of life.
And then, let's do a little practice. Close your eyes, look inside, in your Heart (chakra), right in the centre of your breast, inside of you. See the Whirling Rainbow. Observe the feeling and perceptions it creates.
The prophecy of the Whirling Rainbow was very specific. When the Time of the White Buffalo approaches, the third generation of the White Eyes' children will grow their hair and speak of love as the healer of the Children of the Earth. â€œThe Whirling Rainbow is the promise of peace among all Nations and all people. The Rainbow Race stresses equality and opposes the idea of a superior race that would control or conquer other races. The Rainbow Race brings peace through the understanding that all races are one. The unity of all colors, all creeds working together for the good of the whole, is the idea that is embodied in the Whirling Rainbow. When all pathways to wholeness are respected by all cultures, the prophecy of the Whirling Rainbow will be completed.
These children will seek new ways of understanding themselves and others. They will wear feathers and beads and paint their faces. They will seek the Elders of the Red Race and drink of their wisdom. These white-eyed children will be a sign that the Ancestors are returning in white bodies, but they are Red on the inside. They will learn to walk the Earth Mother in balance again and reform the idea of the white chiefs. These children will be tested as they were when they were Red ancestors by unnatural substances like firewater to see if they can remain on the Sacred Path. The Whirling Rainbow will appear in the form of a full Rainbow Circle. It is a rare natural phenomenon that was named by Native Americans as Sun Dogs. Many Sun Dogs will be seen around the time of the White Buffalo, which will be the Sky Language sign that the Secret and Sacred Teachings are to be shared with all races. Enough of the Children of Earth will be awakened to carry the responsibility of the teachings and the healing process will begin in full swingâ€?.
The Condor's Prayer Our center is located in the Sacred Valley in Cusco where we share our various workshops, therapies, traditional ceremonies and rituals. Any of our ceremonies can be done anywhere - natural or archaeological site - in Lima or Cusco any day of the week. Nuna Ayni demonstrative center has as its main goal to be a model space aimed towards learning and replicating selfsustainable community life systems, based in the 4 areas that we propose.
For some time we have been raising the Condor's Prayer in Peru and the United States. This is a way to share some of the traditions and ways of praying from the Andean Cosmovision. This prayer is achieved through a 3-day retreat in which we share a sacred ceremony of offering to the Earth, in the traditional way of the Q'ero nation of Cusco, a medicine ceremony of Wachuma, a sacred plant in Peru and a final integration work with the concepts of the Andean Cosmovision with the ones we will work during all the ceremonies.
We offer a variety of activities at our center. You can find information on our website. We do not have a fixed program. Here are some examples. For any contact or more information please contact us at least five days prior to a visit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ceremony of Offering to Mother Earth The ceremony of "Offering to Mother Earth" or "Despacho" is a traditional ceremony of thanksgiving and prayer. There are many ways and means to perform this ceremony where the Q'ero nation, as one of the oldest communities in our Andes in Cusco, keeps the knowledge of it. We share one of these traditional forms by trying to make it resemble as much as possible what our ancestors did when there werenâ€™t plastic and other items that are used today. In this ceremony, the sacred Coca Leaf is the key as a messenger of all our prayers.
Hampi Muyu: sound healing circle
The walk starts from the hot springs of the community of Pacchanta (4 hours from Cusco) and lasts approximately 6-8 hours.
There are sounds and songs that are embedded in our memory. Sounds and songs that wake up in time. Sounds and songs of our grandfathers and grandmothers that we carry in each cell of our body. Hampi Muyu is a circle. A circle of medicine where we call the spirit of our grandfathers and grandmothers as water, earth, air and fire, spirit of plants and animals that come to us and manifest. So the spirit comes through the sound to bring back the balance of our own spirit; to give us peace of mind and heart so we can open our understanding. And there, in the middle of the silence and the sounds we clean and heal ourselves. Ancestral songs and sounds that help us to reconnect with the true essence of ourselves and everything around us. Hampi Muyu is a place / time to gather in the same prayer and same intention for ourselves, all our relations and our Mother Earth.
Sacred Pilgrimage to Ausangate With the intention to remember and share some of the many reflections that we collect from our ancestral wisdom and the Andean cosmovision, we guide an intentional hike to wake up the sense of sacredness to all things that surrounds us and is also a way to revive the pilgrimage to the father of the Apus of Cusco: The Apu Ausangate. A symbolic journey where we can connect with the land and the Apus, who are the guardians of nature. A beautiful way to learn about the wisdom of our ancestors and understand their vision.
Purification and flowering Sessions Each plant from Mother Earth brings a medicine with it that helps us to return back to the balance we need to feel good. Each sound affects our whole vibration and our whole being and there are ancient songs and sounds that help us to reconnect with the true essence of ourselves and everything around us. These sessions are made with different incenses, ancient sounds and different elements for the purification and flowering, which are based on medicinal herbs, flowers, essential oils, perfumes and special holy water to allow the cleaning of our energy field which will make us feel revitalized. At the same time this will change our energy and open us to a positive vibration, allowing us to receive the good things that life has for us and flourish with our dreams and projects. At the same the songs and sounds will finish cleaning and harmonize our body and mind with the spirit, leaving a full feeling of peace and harmony with ourselves, our lives and everything around us.
Experience with Peruvian ancestral instruments Through the heart, intuition, and breathing we will experience, with different ancestral instruments of Peru and America, new ways to reconnect with nature, the cosmos and ourselves. The sounds are a reflection of what happens inside each of us present, when we release some of that inner world through sounds and rhythms, we can experiment a taste of freedom. "Playing music is to harmonize, to break with our limiting beliefs that keep us growing. Love emerges only when our ego gives up its pretensions of absolute autonomy. Approaching with ingenuity and love to the instruments we will be closer to our hearts. " Carlos D. Fregtman
Women's Workshop: Moon Woman, Earth Women The female world is governed by “mystery”. The moon and the Earth are the goddesses who guide and discover this mystery within us and allow us to discover our goddess. Over time, rituals and ceremonies have allowed women to connect with the feminine universe. This workshop invites women to pray, connect and heal through different activities, meditations, rituals and ceremonies from Peru and the world by opening the doors to the strength of our own divinity. A time for sharing between women and women.
“I humbly respect the simplicity of their life philosophy and often contemplate how we found a way to complicate ours while looking for solace in the escape of nature. We have much enjoyable learning to do. I look forward to a life dedicated to it.” … I see you both as emissaries of beauty. And as teachers of the radical, profound relationship that we humans have always had with nature even when we live enclosed within our little boxes, in a world of manufactured rectangles and squares. Sitting inside one such manufactured rectangle, gazing at my bright, synthetic computer screen, I pause... and I light more palo santo... and close my eyes and dissolve into the perfection of your sacred music... and I feel with gratitude and humility the radical relationship with all things that has been nourished by our sacred Huachuma ceremony…. The next thing that arises to share is to acknowledge how deeply and profoundly and perfectly you give of yourselves, and of your profound gifts. And how you serve spirit with the full power of your pure beings. I see you both as conduits of spirit, channels of sacred energy that flow into the human world to heal and sing and drum and rejoice and spread love with utter freedom, with unflinching humility, and also with a wonderful sense of humor. Your commitment to being servants of spirit, as I see you, doesn't make you overly serious or weighty or aggrandized in any way. There's just the sweetness of awakened being filled with light overflowing into the world to feed every soul who wishes to be fed. With all my love, Shalom
I am beyond words in my gratitude for your gifts. Thank you for being the immense, pure clear channels that you are. I will just say that my life has changed. I feel clear, light and open. Cleansed spiritually, emotionally and even physically I notice more energy running through me. Your prayers will always be with me. Your work is the most vital work that can be done in the world, for the world. May you always be supported, nourished and fruitful in all your actions. May Creator bless every breath and every step and every sacred beat of your heart. May it all be in perfect harmony with the Nuna Ayni. Sonja My experience is still continuing. It is constantly being reflected upon in many expected and unexpected ways. One of the ways that has seemed to surprisingly alter my viewpoint is the connectedness that the Peruvian people have with the Earth and all it encompasses; reminding me of the stories that we are told in relation to the Native Americans. Unfortunately, in the United States they have been oppressed by ways of relocation, reservations, and near genocide. I humbly respect the simplicity of their life philosophy and often contemplate how we (Americans) found a way to complicate ours while looking for solace in the escape of nature. We have much enjoyable learning to do. I look forward to a life dedicated to it. Clifton Beary - US PS - love you guys!
Luz, ... Tenderness, beauty... I know the experience and also the experience of losing it when I am in the harsh winds of society or haunted by fears and pressure. I can get back into this state but the up and down, the in and out, is very stressful, and also doubts whether I am still on the right path, doing this media work, for example, grilling myself on the screen. Even though it is for the good. How do you keep the peaceful connectedness in harsh urban society? It is very difficult to keep a peaceful connection when you live in the city or you are in urban societies but not impossible. The goal is to bring the connections you have with your self and with what is true for you to every single place you go. Itâ€™s easy to be peaceful and happy when you are in a beautiful place and with nice people, but what is the point if you only can do it in those environments and not in harsh environment? What ever practice that helps us to keep the balance and connection we should find it and apply it. I usually have a lot of compassion for the people that lives stressful lives and suffer a lot in the cities so I try to look those environments from a place of compassion and in that way I find my inner peace so I can act in peaceful ways. How is it for people who have been to your journeys and get back to their city lives? Do you have suggestions for them? We need to understand that more than talking about peacefulness we talk about consciousness. In this way we can be peaceful and compassionate with ourselves. What we need to try is not to generate a conflict
with ourselves. Sometimes we will be able to keep peace in our hearts but sometimes it will be difficult. We need to keep trying to not take things personal and not be attached to any experience because all will pass. The thing is to be conscious of our process and have lots of love for ourselves. So we suggest taking our lives as the real ceremony and to remember that living our lives is walking a sacred path. In that way, when people understand that every moment is sacred your relation with your life - wherever it is - changes. No matter if itâ€™s washing the dishes or being in a spiritual journey, your inner experience has to be the same. In gratitude, in honor, in connection, in peace. What about people who cannot come to you but have been touched by this article. What are your suggestions to them for connecting to this energy in them and outside? One beautiful way that I practice and also recommend people to do it is to contemplate Mother Earth, Mother Nature. Is important to find a moment to be in nature. It not only will nourish your soul buy also your mind and your heart. There are many things that people can learn just by observing the beauty of mother earth and all what lives on her. Even from a little ant you can learn different things that you can apply then in your live. When you look to the sky, to the stars, to the sun in a sunrise or a sunset you will see the wisdom of life and even in the city there is always a sky. Is just a matter of you giving yourself that time.
Your work and life look very beautiful and rich. Do they come with hardships and challenges? Every path has challenges. The only difference is that when you are doing what makes your heart sing, when you are doing what makes you happy, no obstacle will stop you or make you feel down because your strength will come from your heart and even if you feel tired you will go on. From your biographies, I would tell that you are not born into this kind of culture. Still you have obviously entered it. Can you tell us more about your personal journeys of transformation? I always felt in my heart that the system I was living on couldn’t be life. I travelled a lot, as much as I could. and I discovered that my little world wasn’t the only one that exists. I explored and still explore a lot of different things that call me. And in that way I have had many different understandings and transformational experiences. The strongest ones were drinking sacred medicine plants that have opened myself in ways I never expected. They helped me to open my consciousness and be more aware of what is real for me in my heart. Then I realize that each moment of our lives is a gift and if you are with your eyes open you can have amazing transformational experiences just by looking a bug. Did you go through crisis? I think that part of being a human being is to have crisis. Crisis for me is the same as opportunity. Sometimes you need earthquakes in your life to move to another place.
When that happens you don’t look for the things that fall down, you look for the things that are still there. Yes, I go through crisis sometimes. But now with a different perspective. What are core aspects of this transformational experience? Is it leaving one world and entering a new? This can be very hard. Did you have to leave behind an old life for a new? Is the old life still part of your world? Do you still walk it, at times, or would it rupture your new life? I feel I am a little part of everything. I was born in the city and grew up most of my life in the city. Now I live in the mountains and many things of being a city girl are still there. Sometimes society want you to fit in just one outfit and I feel that is impossible and makes us suffer, because sometimes the outfit will be too big or too small, or you will like something from another outfit. We are a mix of different things and we have to honor all what we are. I am who I am and I just integrate all of what is part of my live based on my values and my beliefs. Some cultures say that diving into the spiritual serves us to strengthen ourselves for the harsher outside world. Do you experience difference between our selves at spiritual week-ends, and our earthly selves? Or do you merge the two, and keep the ways, open heart and connectedness that you live on the stages? Or do you also take on different shapes, like being a dynamic rockstar or CEO with a loving aut tough grip on the bridles? For me, spirit is not separate from the material world. Material comes from the word “matter” that means mother. I believe in living a sacred life more than a spiritual life. I believe that every moment, an experience of our life is sacred and I don’t feel there is a separation.
"Spirit is within and without me and that is why all our relations are so important.
Not only with people, but also with what I eat, the earth, the animals, the trees, the things and everything that surrounds us."
Spirit is within and without me and that is why all our relations are so important. Not only with people, but also with what I eat, the earth, the animals, the trees, the things and everything that surrounds us. Is there a shared essential discovery and experience that people make when participating in your stages? What are they, and how do they dígest and integrate it to their lives? What we hear most from people is their discovery of how much love we have and how much love we can share between us, for ourselves and everything that is around us. That is a base for everything else. Is like discovering your own source of fuel for your body, your mind and your heart. And because it is inside you there is nothing to digest. You take it where ever you go. Have core topics changed over the years? I see that nowadays, much work is done on the healing of women and sensuality / sexuality.
Each person will have her or his own experience in a very particular way, so there are not rules. Life is the great mystery and we never know how the next wave is going to come. We just need to be connected to our inner strength and learn the best way to navigate our experiences. I have found that quick overnight sessions without opportunity to prepare, relax and also talk about one's experiences with the wisdom keepers … is suboptimal. What do you say about this? How do you create a healing frame that holds the participants safe? That gives them strength, and understanding, inner harmony, also when they return home? There are many ways. You will need to find the one works for you. Don’t share something that you don’t practice or haven’t experienced yet. Only when you are transparent and honest people will feel safe because you are real and we only can trust in what we can relate. What else comes to your mind, what would you like to add?
There has being a disconnection with our mother, the earth, the feminine energy the woman. I feel it has come a time to be in balance again. It is our nature, and we have to learn to find the balance all the time. Part of this is to heal the feminine and masculine energy which brings also the balance of sexuality, sensuality, body, mind and all our relations. Balance is not static. It is dynamc. This personal experience can be very profound. Is something to be observed, so the intensity does not get us off balance? From my personal experiences we have to observe everything we can from our inner world and our outer world. Things will be how they have to be, there are things that we can control or manage.
Nothing at all, Just be happy. The prophecy speaks of reds, returning as white eyeds, red on the inside. I know perfectly what you mean, and still this has a lot of challenges. Like false ego prophets and also angry natives, - who may sometimes, not even be as red on the inside. And then, we are experiencing a changing age, altogether. What are your experiences with this sensitive matter of cultures? Here in Perú and also in different cultures there are these prophecies about the indigenous spirit returning and born in new people. This is something that is happening and is beyond cultures or people.
This is talking about the ancestral wisdom being revalued. I figure it out travelling to different parts of the world and studying the vision of the ancestors in the different countries that the message and the understanding is the same. Maybe the names change but the essence is the same. Our world and our society are so decadent that the need to take a look to the ways our ancestors used to live have become essential in these times. And there we can find how their relationship with the inside and outside was totally different from now. We need to rescue the ancestral knowledge of how to take care of ourselves, our communities and our Earth. We need to rescue the integrated vision of the spirit with the material. The vision of humans as part of the entire universe. That is what the prophecies are about. Another matter in this domain is a growing trend to medicine tourism. I have recently met a friend who reported about disturbing experiences and that the natives organising these events were truly after money, because they are in a survival crisis. And unfortunately, this manifests in luring tourists into ceremonies in very dishonourable ways, and dropping, ignoring them once they have paid. And leaving a trauma over months. I don't know whether you know of such matters, but they exist. Is there anything that you can suggest to people seeking... how to observe themselves, their limits, take care of themselves and also â€“ how to discriminate, what is a trustworthy environment and what not?
This is a very hard and important issue.
It is true that many indigenous people in the areas of PerĂş, Ecuador, Colombia and Brasil have seen the work with sacred medicine plants as a way of earning lots of money because of the huge demand that is going on in this time. The global crisis as humanity that we have is real and there is more and more people looking for different ways to connect again with the true happiness that is not in having more and more money, or properties or things. Unfortunately, this demand has created improvised shamans, healers and gurus. Not only around the sacred medicine plants and these countries but also around different ancestral and new therapies around the world. In this scene, with the huge demand and the economic needs some people have discernment is hard. And actually, there are not only indigenous people with economic needs. There is a lot of ego in this path. I have known foreigners taking 2 times medicine and then becoming shamans and giving medicine to others. It is important that people understand that the
path of the sacred medicine plants have thousands of years of experience. The people that are healers and who work with the sacred plants need to have a very profound training of years. Of years of doing very hard work with their selves. We call this dietas, where you put yourself in extreme experiences, having different kind of medicines. And usually this work never ends. At least once a year the person giving medicine have to do a work, every year for the rest of their lives, as possible. The other important thing is to have a good teacher. A real teacher will never send you to war without tools. Any real teachers know that this is a path of many years and you have to have his permission to do the work and give medicine to others and your teacher will take care of your back. This path is also something that you donâ€™t choose, it chooses you. So, it is important for people to understand that if they are looking for just an experience â€Ś it is very risky.
The medicines are here to heal us and help us in many ways. So we need to be very careful and respectful and we also need to understand that we need a very good preparation. If there is a real intention of healing, you will be very careful to choose the person you will work with. It is like having a surgery. You wonâ€™t go to anyone to do it. And you will like to know something about the doctor or at least his experience and background. A good healer will not necessarily call him- or herself a shaman. A good healer will ask you many questions before giving you medicine, checking with you if you are able to have medicine. A good healer will even tell you that maybe you donâ€™t need a medicine plant. If after the evaluation the healer sees that medicine will be good for you, a good healer will prepare you with special food diets besides other things - for at least one month.
Then you trust.
Dear Luz. Thank you. We have only been able to touch on a few things here, and it has to be stated that this truly is a science, that, just like quantum physics, takes time to master. It is a lifelong journey. I am glad to see that you have created a safe and welcoming space, bridging worlds. Thank you so very much. Also, I am very touched by the music, and so have been friends viewing your video. Is more music available online? Not yet, but we are working on that. Still, you can contact us by our facebook for music or any other thing Nuna Ayni offers. Just look for Nuna Ayni. What's next for you in 2012 and 13? We are trying to get all the money we need to build our Demonstrative Center of a self-sustainable community based on the integration of the following areas: health, arts, ecology and sustainability. We really donâ€™t want to change the world, we just want to create a new one. So, this year, we are fully focussing on making this happen as soon as possible. Can people support your work? Can citizens or schools? Yes. You can donate through our website or contact us to give us any ideas to collect the money we need or by visiting us and participating in our activities, and just by sharing about Nuna Ayni and our project. One day when the Center is ready we will offer more and different programs for schools, young people and adults - so is really needed we can build our place to start sharing the vision. Finally, a message to the young generation. In every school there's a dozen youth who feel the spirit that Nuna Ayni works with. However, they may not be so sure of themselves, or as 'elves' may be outsiders among the 'Muggles', in Harry Potter terms). What is your message to them?
"The only thing I can share is that we came to this Earth to learn how to be happy and enjoy our lives, and we only can do that when we listen to our hearts. Whatever it is, donâ€™t allow anyone to make you feel bad or fool for what makes you happy.
Find your gift and do what makes your heart sing, because that is the way you will make yourself and other people and the world happy. Even if it is for a little time. Try to do all what calls you and live the life you feel in your heart and makes you happy."
To round it off, the stage is for you. What else would you like to share with the soul that is reading these lines right now? "Just to remind everyone that we all carry the memory and wisdom of our ancestors, the memory and wisdom of nature and the mystery of the universe, the mystery of life.
When we wake up this memory, we remember who we really are and what is our relation with mother Earth and the Universe. We remember that we all are held in the hands of eternal love and that we all are one. When we all are one with our people, our lands, with the trees, animals, with our planet and the entire universe, - then all of our relations become sacred."
Fred and Daniel have responded to the same set of questions. Clearly, they belong to the same 'family', still their answers have individual nuances that are profound. Read them in the online article (link at article end). Excerpts: If we connect to Mother Earth we can understand the natural dynamic of life, we donâ€™t need to talk about peace.
In all ancient cultures, it was very clear that integration, like light and dark belong together.
As human beings we are part of this creation, and we have to keep and protect this harmony in our lives and around us to evolve and grow in all aspects.
People realize the power within to change their lives, to pray again in that sacred relation, how to reconnect to Mother Earth through nature and their selves.
We have to keep moving towards that aim of love, patience, perseverance, discipline, faith, strength, flexibility.... We know that we have that power to change our lives and all around us. Each one of us will figure it out. It is a personal work, and each one works different. We need to learn like the bamboo, the tree of patience and perseverance.
We work before, during and afterwards the healing session. It also helps a lot to each one of us, we learn from each other.
... my relations with myself, my father and mother, women, men, food, nature, the sun, the moon, sexuality, my words, my thoughts, my body, my walk, etc. They are still changing, - a lot of work to do. Go to nature, to a tree, to mountains, lakes, oceans, any sacred creation, meditate, contemplate, with an open mind and heart, pray to Wiracocha, the creator, god, as you talk to your mother and father, Crisis are part of life, without crisis we donâ€™t have the opportunity of change.
... there is a lack of healthy and sacred guidance on the political, economical and society level. It is very easy right now to convince people to follow a spiritual path, because we are hungry about it. Unfortunately, all this spiritual hunger is making people start to sell and make money unconsciously. We need to figure it out by ourselves, to get empowerment, to follow our truth in balance with ourselves, Mother Earth, Father Sky and all our relations. The real ceremony is our life. We need to trust in our intuition, our heart. If we follow them, we will learn what we need to learn. We have the power to destroy or create. It is a huge responsibility. We are magicians - donâ€™t forget it. BE YOURSELF.
Breathing Observing Being aware of my relationships Going to gardens, hugging trees and smelling plants and flowers. Connecting with the Sun, the Moon and the Stars. After a deep experience in Nature you’re not going to be the same person. So the suggestion is, first, to be aware about your sensitivity - how your body, your
emotions and your mind react to the pressure of the city, - and to be honest with what you feel. Honour it.
Second, you have to go to any place where you can Nature again, a garden, a park, where you can feel the soil, where you can get relief from the concrete jungle. Also we have to constantly remind us that we are the Nature in ourselves, we have it in ourselves. Quitting the bank – was one of my happiest days in my life. When I made these changes in my life, everything started to get aligned in order to fulfil my Heart´s feeling, - with all Life´s support, and with all the lessons that I needed, joyfully or disguised in hardships and challenge. ... we have the world inside ourselves, so we have to change the world within ourselves…
Everything has its roots, it’s beginning inside, the key is to be consistent, to manifest our inner strength in our daily life… whether it’s our relationships with our friends, brothers, sisters, parents, boss, employees… and especially our relationship with ourselves… how honest are we with ourselves?… Again, the change is not outside, the change begins
inside and it’s fundamental in our relationships… it’s not just to do it… it’s why we do it and how we do… Men, women, sensuality, sexuality... I think we have to be careful with the approach about this topic. In substance it’s not about women or men… it’s about female and male energy and - how is our relationship as human beings with these energie? Both energies are present in women and men and in everywhere outside… it’s the way how Life gives birth to Her/HimSelf. Women are the manifestation of female energy as gender and men are the manifestation of male energy as gender, and both genders have male and female energy inside of them. Getting off balance is generated sometimes, because some women and men reproduce conditioned patterns about
distorted male and female power causing in this profound and new experience.
LISTEN to the music first, before you add the visuals of Luz dancing with the condors. http://soundcloud.com/pachapaqariy/sentir-de-tierra http://soundcloud.com/pachapaqariy/paqarina http://soundcloud.com/pachapaqariy/sara-raymi www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHqNSEwWIGc www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4MIMunlVQ0 More at www.sacredsoundsperu.webs.com
'LIVE' Give Back lay Episode 2. Luz Ma and Fred http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsNMo5U6liI Nuna Ayni in Los Angeles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xwia8nKs0k Home of the Miraculous http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAu9kA8joVI
Image credits Nuna Ayni images; copyright Luz Maria, Nuna Ayni. Water and Nature photography; copyright Elia Kuhn, Photographer. email@example.com Web: http://eliak999.wix.com/eliakuhnphotographies
Inspired by Youth Rising, we added some more breakthroughs for peace the world ought to know about. For example: AMEENA works with selected youth on the streets - what about the millions in classrooms? And what can ordinary teachers do about it? Well, one such ordinary teacher is ERIN.
around the planet, bringing CEOs and investors to court? This is it. It's already in military law, it's in national laws. And once 86 nations support it, it will become global law by the Statue of Rome. This is a huge step in history! It's the biggest towards sustainability. Did you didn't even know about i? Have your green NGOs told you? We even make it applicable in all school yards, right away. That's mobilising power. Youth love it!
HEALING VIOLENT YOUTH BIOGRAPHIES. THROUGH WRITING. AT SCHOOL. USA ERIN GRUWELL. Erin faced a roomful of students who had each lost friends to gang violence. They hated her and they hated school. What would you do? Erin gave them a few books to read and a homework. The result has spread to hundreds of ghetto schools in every US state and even to Hollywood screens. Are there still news about youth violence in your country? I bet. If your school board hasn't implemented this yet, it's time you tell them.
RESOURCE SCARCETY. Healing our streets. Empowering homeless youth. What's true for our home turf is true for other parts of the planet where no one is near to help.
Whatever we do for sustainability, the industrial juggernaut of unbridled corporate destruction and bad governance is unravelling the web of life at record speed, faster than ever. EVERYONE is outraged at the responsibles' infamous behaviour. They should be in court! Facing jail. The investors, too! have you given up hope? Well, here's the law. Join POLLY and the Ecocide Campaign.
So, to add this facet of world peace, we build a bridge for sustainability cooperation with an ancient nomadic people facing the worst of climate change. And with a brilliant youth leader.
A NEW GLOBAL LAW FOR PROTECTING THE COMMONS. UK POLLY HIGGINS. 'Making Ecocide the 5th Crime Against Peace at the International Criminal Court' The interdependence of resource scarcety and conflict is clear. The UN have already studied ecocide as the 5th crime for the ICC. Can you imagine a protective net
DO WE TRULY FEEL HAPPY as long as others are suffering from famine? Not really. THE PLANET IS A VILLAGE. We can reach a hand everywhere. Sometimes, it takes only little effort. Because our money is strong, elsepecially 'elsewhere'. Also, because many "others" just need the very basics to lead a life in dignity. In peace.
For direct action. Our PEACE Edition is an Action Medium! COMBINING ANCIENT AND FUTURISTIC SUSTAINABILITY SOLUTIONS. NIGER STONE AGE NOMADS GO STAR TREKKING. EMPOWERING VILLAGE YOUTH THROUGH 100 DAY LITERACY CLASSES. PAKISTAN THE OPEN DOORS LITERACY PROJECT. You find their stories at www.youth-leader.org/alliances.html
We add around 20 grand changemakers. For the full list visit www.youth-leader.org/peace.html
A radiant smile and a glowing face, Erin Gruwell, lovingly called Ms G, is a graduate in teaching from the University of California in Irvine. This is a story of an ordinary teacher who had an extraordinary experience. A story that changed the lives of a hundred and fifty others who had lost hope in this battle of life and to whom it was merely a question of survival. For these hundred and fifty people, the American dream was replaced by the nightmare of a glum, dark and hopeless reality. The year is 1994 at the Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach California. A lady in her mid twenties wearing a polka dot dress and white pearls stepped into what was to be her first year as a teacher. In room number 203 sat a bunch of students who had perhaps seen the insides of boot camps and juvenile homes more than classrooms. Labelled the “stupidest” bunch the school had, these students had sized up the new teacher as she entered her new domain. To her students, this lady was white and wore expensive clothes and jewels. In their minds she wouldn’t have the faintest idea of what it means to be hungry, live in the “hood” nor live in a racially segregated society. To them, those who “ratted on their homies” were considered lower than murderers. Her students had perceived her to be this typical “perky” lady who was going to lecture them on the values of life from the high pedestal of her privileged background, where holding down more than one job just to make ends meet was almost unthinkable. As Erin continued her story I could just imagine myself in such a class
where social divides had separated people and their lives. The gun and gang were means to ensuring the minimal existence that her students had. You could feel the sense of desperation and hopeless existence that her students felt, the chill of not having a father around whenever you wanted someone to pick you up and give you that cuddle which you yearn for. But Erin was unperturbed, and maintained that smile on her face. The mix of students, whites and hispanics to one side, and Asians and African Americans to the other, did not care for their teacher and did not trust her. At that moment Erin was far from a ray of hope and was just a white lady who they bet wouldn’t last in their class for more than a few days. But Ms G, despite all their attempts to irritate and sideline her, maintained her composure and smile. Erin was in no mood to retreat. Despite initial opposition from family and friends she was determined to teach in the troubled Long Beach community. Ms G was determined to make a difference in a school system overwhelmed by standardized tests that labelled those who didn’t qualify the cut offs (labeled them as what? Failures?). She could feel the frustration of those who were left behind and fell into the cracks in the system. She quickly realized that her students didn’t need just a teacher. They required mentors. They needed a role model, someone whom they could relate to and give them a ray of hope and perhaps inspire them to seek a way out of this quagmire of misery they were in. As Erin proceeded I could visualize myself as a student in her class wondering what this white lady was trying to do to us “homies”. We didn’t want nobody telling us what do or some fool ratting on us. We just want out!!
Far from viewing Erin as a ray of hope, her students were filled with skepticism and disgust, for both having to sit in a class and sit next to someone who wasn’t their “homie”. Erin could sense this disconnect among students. Furthermore, their frustrations and shattered hopes only compounded their problem. There was no one to listen to them, let alone understand them. This made matters worse. But she was far from a quitter and was determined to turn things around for both herself and her students. She felt that if the curriculum reflected her students’ backgrounds better, they would be more forth coming and expressive in class. As a proponent of the theory that the pen is mightier than the sword, or in this case mightier than guns and gangs, Ms G felt that the best way for her students to express their thoughts and feelings would be to write about them. So she gave each one a journal and asked them to make an entry in it each day, thus „writing towards their own inner freedom“. On the first day, a girl named Maria walked into the classroom. With a monitor strapped to her ankle and a parole officer keeping a close watch, this skeptical fourteen year-old entered Ms G’s class. Unperturbed by Ms G and woefully resentful of her situation, Maria settled herself into a corner. When she was given a journal all that she wrote was, “I hate Erin Gruwell, I hate Erin Gruwell and if I wasn’t on probation I would probably shank her”. Erin realized that this girl had gone through a lot and needed an opportunity to tell her story. Maria’s story began at the tender age of five, by which time Maria had already been to more funerals than birthday parties. Her father had the illusion of becoming the next Mohammad Ali, but instead of joining the local gym, he wound up in the local gang and was regularly in and out of jail. Her mother worked three shifts to feed many hungry mouths at home. To Maria her cousin was her hero. He was always there for her
whenever her parents weren’t around and told her stories and fairy tales where the good guy always wins. But one day as Maria waited to board the bus to school, she saw her cousin being shot five times and left to die in a pool of blood. That day Maria’s life changed and she realized that she was different. By the time she was twelve, Maria was in the local gang. She couldn’t care less for schools like Yale; she cared more about not going to jail. Ms G wanted to give people like Maria a second chance, a chance to rewrite their story and to give it a new ending. She wanted to inspire her students to put down the guns and spray cans and pick up a pen and write about their lives. She felt that books by individuals who have suffered similar tragedies may help these one hundred and fifty students and inspire them to find a way out and write a new ending for themselves. She handed Maria a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank, which outlined the story of Anne Frank who had lived in a concentration camp during the Second World War and Zlata’s Diary, which chronicled the story of young girl who survived the Bosnian Genocide. She gave each of her students a glass of sparkling apple cider and asked them to talk about the books they were reading. At first Maria didn’t show the slightest inclination to reading the book. Instead she picked up her glass and shouted, “I don’t want to be pregnant at the age of fifteen like my mother and spend the rest of my life behind bars like my daddy and I don’t want to be six
feet under like my cousin.” Ms G was uncertain whether she would read it. However with nothing to do and still under house arrest, Maria picked up the book and started reading with the hope that she was going to prove Ms G wrong. Maria would come back to Ms G and question many of Anne Frank’s thoughts in relation to the situation Maria was facing. A pleasant surprise for Ms G, this gangster from Long Beach was actually reading her first book. But one day Maria stormed into class and flung the book across the class and yelled, “Why didn’t you tell me, Why didn’t you tell me that Anne dies ?” At that moment there was silence and Erin was speechless and wondered whether she had just shattered the very thing that she had been trying so hard to build – her student’s hope. However just as Maria finished ranting, one of her classmates Darius got up and said, “She did make it. She did make it Maria, because she wrote about it. How many of our friends have died and we never even read an obituary! But because Anne Frank wrote about it, she is going to go on living even after her death. ” Anne Frank was freed because she wrote about her life. So inspired were Erin’s students by this story, that each of the hundred and fifty in the class wrote a letter to Miep Giess, the secretary of Otto Frank, who had kept Anne Frank’s family safe for two years during the holocaust. The short 87 year-old was so moved by Ms G’s students that she flew all the way across the Atlantic to meet this set of gangsters in Long Beach, California. Giess told them that it is now up to the students to keep Anne’s memory alive and that she was passing the baton on to them.
On that day Maria came into class holding a tattered book, the very book that she had flung across the class and nearly hit Erin with, as though it was a Louis Vuitton purse. She came up to Erin and asked, “Ms G, is there any way we can read this in Spanish because my mama wants to read about the little girl who changed my life.” Thus, Erin Gruwell had succeeded in her mission of giving a voice to the voiceless and a hope to the hopeless. Erin’s commitment and her zeal to help these one hundred and fifty students whom society had rejected have earned her a place in the history books and in the hearts of millions. As I listened to this narrative I couldn’t help but wonder how a simple person could change the lives of a hundred and fifty strangers. Her friendly smile and enthusiasm filled everyone listening with the vigor and the thought that we must become the change that we want to make.
As I watched Erin speak, I couldn’t help noticing the constant smile that she had. As she took us through the saga that changed one hundred and fifty lives, her serene and sincere voice reinforced the fact that even simple people with megalithic dreams can achieve them if only they try. But Ms G’s journey wasn’t easy. With a skeptical and unsupportive school system, Erin had to spend money from her own pockets. She had to work a lot more just to make enough money to buy the necessary books and stationery. Even her family didn’t support her. Her father was skeptical and her husband didn’t consider her work very significant. He couldn’t have been more wrong. At the time Erin joined the teaching profession, Los Angeles was traumatized by the O J Simpson trial and riots had marred Long Beach. Long Beach itself had been witness to over a hundred murders the year before. But determined not to give up, Erin took up extra jobs to pay for her student’s books. Erin’s infectious enthusiasm even inspired her father to get involved. The students nicknamed him Papa G. Slowly she was making a difference. To her students, who were traumatized by the OJ Simpson trial and were constant victims of violence, writing was way out of the quagmire of misery they called life. But Erin’s smile and warmth ensured that the classroom number 203 would be a place different from the world outside. From Meip Giess to Zlata, her students were able to reach out and voice their stories. The determination to be the change and give a voice to the voiceless has given Erin a very a special place in the hearts of many.
Meip Giess, last relative of Anne Frank, signing Freedom Writer books. "I am getting old now - I have to pass the baton to you, to uphold Anne's memory."
Erin moved on from Long Beach Wilson High School to the California State University to teach and inspire future teachers. Soon after she left her teaching position at the university she started the Freedom Writers Foundation, a non profit organization to promote the freedom writing technique. When I read those lines, I had a lot of questions. Did the freedom end with another foundation that disappeared into obscurity? What happened to the kids? So I did what most people of todayâ€™s generation do, looked them up on Google. Google almost instantaneously displayed hundreds of links to the freedom writers, Freedom Writers Foundation and also a Facebook page dedicated to freedom writers. And I found answers to my questions.
Here's Erin's story, as told by Erin. As a senior class, the Freedom Writers received the Spirit of Anne Frank Award for their commitment to combating discrimination, racism, and bias-related violence. They also devoted long hours to editing their journal entries and were rewarded with a publishing contract to turn their class book into what would become a number-one-ranked New York Times bestseller, The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them (Broadway Books, 1999). But even more meaningful to the Freedom Writers than awards or publication was the moment they collectively walked
Erinâ€™s book catalogues her journey from an ordinary woman to an extraordinary visionary.
across a graduation stage and claimed their high school diplomas, a feat few had thought possible. After the Freedom Writers graduated from Wilson High in 1998, I made the difficult decision to trade my beloved Room 203 for California State University, Long Beach, where I became a Teacher in Residence in the College of Education. My goal was to help as many students as possible by teaching future educators. During my time at the university, some of my college students were Freedom Writers now pursuing careers in education. One of them once commented, “The best part of Ms. G’s class [at Wilson
High] was how she’d start us on one of her off-the-wall activities and suddenly we were all coming up with our own ideas. It was like we were teaching the class with her. I think that’s why so many of us want to be teachers.” Hearing that, I began to dissect what truly happened in Room 203, in the hopes that my lesson plans could be replicated in other classrooms, regardless of age, academic ability, or socioeconomic level. At the university, I discovered that some of the pedagogical strategies I had arrived at instinctively while teaching at Wilson High were supported by research in the field of education. I learned that educational psychologists strongly support a student-centered learning model based on “internal motivation.” Students who are internally motivated feel a sense of choice in the classroom, experience themselves as competent, and are more likely to achieve academic success. Teachers who support “internal motivation” listen to their students, engage interest, encourage questions, and allow their students flexibility in problem solving. Encouraged by this academic validation of my student-centered me-
thods, I drew on my classroom experiences with the Freedom Writers and began to teach future educators how to motivate their students from the inside out. Hundreds of future teachers later, a very successful businessman challenged me to bottle my “Secret Sauce” and take my pedagogical methods to the next level. With his help, as well as crucial input from many of the original Freedom Writers, we established the Freedom Writers Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to replicating the success of the Freedom Writers. Today, thanks in part to the scholarships provided by the Freedom Writers Foundation, many of the Freedom Writers have graduated from college. Some have earned their teaching credentials, while others are pursing master’s degrees and PhDs. In addition, there are Freedom Writers who contribute to the day-to-day running of the Foundation, help to organize and lead teacher-training workshops, and visit schools to empower the youths to write their own stories. Over the years, the outpouring of interest from teachers and students across the country who had read The Freedom Writers Diary was overwhelming. By holding a mirror to their lives, the Freedom Writers were able to touch on universal truths, illuminate the lives of teenagers, and provide hope for the future. The next step for the Foundation was to pilot our training methodology – “The Freedom Writers Method” -- with a group of teachers who became affectionately known as the “Freedom Writer Teachers.” These dynamic individuals were among the first educators to go through the Freedom Writers Institute in Long Beach, California. They come from urban, rural, and suburban regions of the United States and Canada, and their classrooms reflect a range of socioeconomic and academic levels. The Freedom Writer Teachers have a breadth of experience that includes working with at-risk students,
honors students, English Language Learners, and incarcerated youth, ranging from middle school to high school. The Freedom Writer Teachers taught The Freedom Writers Diary in their classrooms and tested our activities with their own students. They also played an integral role in helping us create our first teachers guide by contributing ideas and suggestions, sharing their students’ reactions to the activities, and passing along their own comments, which can be found in the “Teacher Talk” section of the Guide.
The Freedom Writers Diary: Teacher’s Guide offers a standards-based curriculum that combines innovative teaching methods with an easy-to-use compilation of lesson plans that serve a variety of student needs and classroom settings. The activities featured in the guide changed my students’ attitudes toward learning and improved their academic achievement. Apathetic students developed into critical thinkers and socially aware citizens. Other benefits included significantly reduced truancy rates, fewer behavioral problems, improved reading retention, and higher test scores. I believe these outcomes are possible in any classroom. The Freedom Writers Institute and our resource material such as the Teacher’s Guide was written for dedicated teachers like you who wish to revitalize your classrooms using meaningful lessons infused with a real world context. Teaching the Freedom Writers Method will help you inspire your students to write about their own journeys, give them the confidence to reach their full academic potential, and encourage them to improve their community through the message of tolerance. My hope is that all students can learn from our unique story and pick up a pen and write what needs to be written.
May you teach one to teach another… -Erin Gruwell
These are good times. Positive change success stories are turned into Hollywood movies for a large audience. Teachers and youth workers as far away as Berlin's safe haven districts say it has changed their view of things, so you might as well choose to watch it. But we recommend to first read our article. And maybe even the book. If you do choose to check the film, so your lasting impression of Freedom Writers stays real. It's not the same experience as the real story told by Erin and our article. The director has good intentions, but a movie of typical Hollywood movie polish cannot grasp the intensity, the roughness, the biographies of the reality we have to deal with when we take on Writing for Freedom.
was born in East Los Angeles and comes from a family with a strong gang heritage—both her father and grandfather were gang members. When she turned eleven, Maria was jumped into a gang, making her a third generation gang member. Maria was in and out of juvenile detention centers for the better part of her teenage years. After losing over 20 friends to gang violence during the summer before her freshman year, Maria’s probation officer enrolled her at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach. With belowaverage test scores, Maria was placed in Erin Gruwell’s English class where she continued to fight her teacher’s relentless attempts to engage her in learning. Reading the Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank marked a turning point for Maria, as she found herself in the pages of a book for the first time ever. Maria and her classmates began writing in diaries that were later compiled and published in a number one New York Times best-selling book- The Freedom Writers Diary. Since then, Maria has traveled across the country speaking to educators, at-risk youth, and community leaders about the power of education and the need to give students a second chance. She has appeared on PrimeTime Live with Connie Chung, and the Rosie O’Donnell Show. Maria earned her Bachelor’s Degree from California State University Long Beach in 2005, and plans to pursue a Master’s in Urban Education. In 2007 Maria was portrayed as main character Eva in the movie Freedom Writers.
often says that if there were a recipe for failure, he had all the right ingredients. He was born to a sixteen year old homeless single mother. At six years old he began to be placed in a series of foster homes. By the time he was 13 he had been to 14 different schools. Once he returned to his mother’s home, he continued to get into trouble because of his mother’s demanding work schedule and his need to care for his younger siblings. Sharaud was once living out of a car. He joined a gang in the eighth grade because he felt the need for protection. In the tenth grade, Sharaud was expelled from school for carrying a gun to class, and sent to Wilson High School where he was enrolled in Erin Gruwell’s English class. Sharaud hated school, and only attended because he enjoyed playing football there. Sharaud continued to be a constant burden in the classroom, until he became the victim of a vicious prank in which a classmate drew a racist caricature of him. The experiencesparked the Freedom Writers movement and changed Sharaud’s views on education and the world around him. Sharaud has traveled across the country speaking to audiences about the power of education and his triumph overcoming obstacles. Sharaud earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa in 2000. In 2007 Sharaud’s story washighlighted in Paramount Studios’ film, Freedom Writers. Sharaud is currently a coach and educator working with students who are performing far below average. In recent years he worked as an algebra teacher at one of the schools he was expelled from in his youth.
By the age of 14, Cynthia Ray found herself supporting her own family by selling drugs. Going to school and possibly college were luxuries she felt she could not even afford to dream of. Between making sure her family had food on the table and hoping to once again avoid eviction, there was no time for normal childhood activities. Cynthia’s mother did the best she could but struggled with mental illness and was barely able to function herself let alone care for a family. Just before Cynthia turned 16, Child Protective Services intervened and removed Cynthia from her home. By the time she began attending Wilson High School she had failed the 10th grade and missed more than half of the school year. She had little hope that she would graduate. Cynthia says that her experience as a Freedom Writer not only inspired her to graduate high school, but to walk away from a life of crime. She says that her teacher Erin Gruwell believed in her when she didn’t believe in herself. She taught Cynthia that not only could she go on to college and succeed- but that she deserved it. Since graduating high school, Cynthia has had a career in the mortgage industry and is currently completing her Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Studies. She is considering pursuing a teaching credential, and also works as an Americorps volunteer. Cynthia hopes to tell her story of triumph to help young people avoid the same difficulties she faced. She is dedicating her life to bringing the same hope to others that once saved her life.
was born and raised in Long Beach, California with eight brothers and sisters in a poor predominantly Hispanic neighborhood filled with gang violence. He spoke Spanish in the home until he was about five years old when his father left his mother. Calvin doesn’t have many memories of his father, except somehow knowing that he didn’t want to be anything like to him- nor speak the same language. At the age of about six, Calvin’s mother remarried. Calvin’s new step father had a foul temper and Calvin often experienced the brunt of his anger while his mother was at work. He felt like he could never tell his mother. This behavior got progressively worse, and Calvin’s step father started hitting his mother and sister as well. Calvin recalls witnessing drug use in the home. Child Protective Services quickly got involved, and Calvin was taken away from his mother and siblings for the first time at age seven. The placement lasted for only two weeks and when Calvin returned home he found that nothing had changed. Over the next five years Calvin was in many different foster homes, until he was finally reintegrated with his mother and five of his siblings. Unfortunately at that point in his mother’s life, she didn’t have the capacity to care for all of her children, so Calvin practically raised his own siblings. One night the police busted down the family’s door along with Child Protective Services. Calvin was sent to a massive group home, lost contact with all but two siblings, and never saw his mother again. Calvin’s mother passed before he had a chance to see her again. Calvin later attended Wilson High School in Ms. Gruwell’s English class, where he joined similar students in a group they themselves named the Freedom Writers. Along with all 149 of his classmates, Calvin went on to graduate high school. He completed a Bachelors of Science in Nursing at BYU in April 2010, and is currently working as a registered nurse in San Diego, California. Calvin is an Eagle Scout, and often shares his experiences with audiences of young people at schools, juvenile halls, and various conferences. As the published co-author of a number one New York Times best-selling book, and one of the subjects of a Paramount Pictures feature film, Calvin is always proud to call himself a Freedom Writer.
How appropriate that Henry Jones was born in the desert. His mother arrested for heroin distribution when he was seven months in the womb, his father a drug dealer and a pimp. It seemed as though he was destined to be isolated. By the age of twelve, Henry was living life in the extreme lane, had a drug habit, was already sexually active, was completely immune to violence, and had gotten into the family business of drug dealing and gang membership. His best friend was shot to death a week before high school began and later his brother would be sentenced to life in prison for beating a man to death. The only system Henry Jones bought into was survival, and since books don’t stop bullets, school was a non-issue. Erin Gruwell challenged Henry to want more than the desolate path he travelled. When Ms. Gruwell shared with Henry that The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank was the second most read book in the world next to the Bible, he was inspired, and two years later, he co-wrote the New York Times bestseller The Freedom Writers Diary. Since then, Henry not only uses his pen, but also his voice and his art. Henry Jones’ speaking has allowed him to travel the world, including Bosnia, sharing his story with educators, youth, and community leaders. During his speeches, he addresses what can happen when more people, like Erin Gruwell, start “teaching to the back of the class.” Henry has shared a stage with notable speakers, including Rudy Giuliani and Harry Belafonte. Henry has also spoken to audiences that include the former Secretary of Education Richard Riley,
former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, and Congressman, Freedom Rider, and Civil Rights Activist John Lewis. Henry has been a guest on National Public Radio with Kojo Nnamdi, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Good Morning America. Henry currently works as a professional photographer and artist and is presently working on a bachelor’s degree in multimedia. Henry’s life was the inspiration for the character of Andre in Paramount Pictures’ Freedom Writers.
The students of room 203 all made it, and all of them are still alive. Had they not encountered Erin, there's a good chance they wouldn't. And would it be as much fun to meet them? There is a very harsh epilogue to this success. Something happened on the final day of "shooting" The Freedom Writers movie. See for yourself. http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2011/06/arman d_jones_murder_simons_sta.php The eyes of the youth in these articles tell us an answer to the question raised above. Their story's similar to Erin's students. Only, they never encountered a caring adult to help them build a way out. This adult might be a teacher.
The Freedom Writers Institute program has been so successful that schools in all 50 states, as well as the territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several Canadian provinces have sent teachers to attend our training in Long Beach, California. To date, 233 education professionals we call Freedom Writer Teachers have been trained at the Institute. In 2009, the Freedom Writer Teachers collaborated with the Freedom Writers Foundation and Erin Gruwell and co-authored Teaching Hope: Stories from the Freedom Writer Teachers, which unites the voices of the Freedom Writer Teachers, who share uplifting, devastating, and poignant stories from their classroom. Mirroring an academic year, these dispatches from the front lines of education take us from the anticipation of the first day, through the disillusionment, challenges, and triumphs of the school year. These are teachers who persevere in the face of intolerance, inflexible administrators, and countless other challenges, and yet continue to reach out and teach those who are deemed "unteachable." Watch as Erin Gruwell discusses Teaching Hope.
The Freedom Writer Foundation conducts courses to teach and promote the freedom writer teaching technique. Teachers who attend these programs take the freedom writer technique back to their schools and inspire their students and give them voice. Some of the students were so inspired by the new breed of teachers that they wanted to work for the Freedom Writers Foundation and be the change they wanted to see. Erin’s original set of a hundred and fifty “rejects” not only graduated but also went to college and many followed in her footsteps and became teachers. Before they met Erin, these kids were just glad they had lived to see another day. But after their encounter with Ms G, they went on to complete their school year and college, something none of them had dreamt about in their wildest imagination. Erin’s story is testimony to the fact that, nobody is stupid or should be treated like rejects. Every student has potential. It is up to the educators and those who are part of this system to spot this talent and help students develop them to the best of their capabilities. Maybe that boy or girl has been under lot of pressure, maybe he or she is just acutely poor. But so far no one has bothered to show them a way out of misery and maybe all they need is someone to show them that door and that route to freedom. This story was so inspirational that they made it into a movie called The Freedom Writers Diary starring Hillary Swank. But personally I felt reading the book and listening to the various real life freedom writers’ testimony gave me more insight into their story than did the movie.
Statue of Anne Frank. wikipedia
However, as Erin concluded her narrative, a thought that daunted me was how can one help this cause? The Freedom Writers Foundation’s website is good starting point. . There are loads of resources on how you can help; from contributions and merchandise to teaching aids that you can use to help spread the message of the Freedom writers and give a voice to the voiceless.
Website www.freedomwritersfoundation.org Facebook Page www.facebook.com/freedomwritersfoundation?sk=wall&filter=2Audio Audio with Freedom writer Teachers http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/freedom-writer-teachercast/id453089394 Video Erin Gruwellâ€™s appeal www.videosurf.com/video/a-message-from-erin-gruwell-108112387 An interview with Maria www.videosurf.com/video/maria-reyes-freedom-writers-and-xio-9836682 www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=clUFO61WyWw www.videosurf.com/video/maria-reyes-on-innerviews-with-ernie-manouse-1278047990 Literature www.freedomwritersfoundation.org/site/c.kqIXL2PFJtH/b.2286935/k.AD6E/About_Erin_Gruwell.htm www.visionmagazine.com/archives/0807/feature_pens.html
POLLY HIGGINS has been voted as one of the “World’s Top 10 Visionary Thinkers,” been named “The Planet’s Lawyer”, was identified as one of the top “unreasonable people” in the world and hailed as Green Heroine working for the right kind of environmental change.
Eric: “ Hey, Polly.” Polly: “Hi Eric. Nice meeting you again.” Eric: “Yep. So – what exactly do you do?“ Polly: „I am bringing Ecocide into Law.“ Eric: “Before we get into it, isn’t Ecocide too strong a word that the legal and political public will put up with? I remember PETA ad campaigns comparing battery hen suffering to concentration camps; and, as usual, some groups complained, so the campaign was pulled off the media.”
* ICC: The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Criminal_Court
Polly: “Actually, not at all. The term has been around the United Nations since the Seventies. No one ever questioned it.” Eric: “Wow, that’s great. I’m relieved.” Polly: “And it is well known throughout Latin America. While it may difficult to start with in European countries, it resonates very well with the culture and worldview of the people of Latin America. Bolivia has already adopted it to their set of laws.” Eric: “And Ecuador has it in its constitution – as Rights of Pachamama, Mother Earth.” Polly: “That’s correct. It differs technically. While the constitution is more of an ethical framework, a law is more concrete. This is why the Bolivian representatives at the United Nations were delighted to learn about the legal definition of Ecocide being on its way to the ICC, the International Criminal Court, and applied it in their country.”
Alberta Tar Sands, Canada. Image: Greenpeace.
Eric: “Oh“ I thought it was their idea, in the first place… so, they learned about it from the UN. This is great. I like this example, since the general ethos is already available in the indigenous worlds, but learning the technicalities of putting it into the White Man’s legal system – is a different matter. I think this is wonderful, since it shows how beautifully people from the different worlds, when sharing the care for Mother Earth, can work together to overcome the wrongs done by earlier generations.” Polly: “Precisely. Yes. It has been very beautiful to meet with indigenous elders and wisdom keepers, also at the United Nations Climate Summit in Cancun. There has been a lot of shared deep understanding between us.”
A recent report for the United Nations has found that 3,000 of the world’s biggest corporations caused $2.2 trillion of ecocide in 2008. Read more at http://climateandcapitalism.com/?p=1806 Image: NASA.
Eric: “And in the ICC?” Polly: “Oh, there’s a lot of interest in it, there, of course. Sure. See, the good thing is – we don’t have to built anything new. No new council. No new court. No big international program requiring a lot of finance and agreements. We have the court. We have the major crimes against humanity to be dealt with there. We only have to add one more topic.” Eric: “And the direct relation between environmental destruction, unsustainability and conflict is well understood. Wangaari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize for this, just a few years ago.” Polly:“Exactly. There are already four in-
ternational Crimes Against Peace. They are: Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes, and Crimes of Aggression. There is a missing 5th Crime Against Peace: that crime is Ecocide.” Eric: “Wow. This gives me a rush of hope. Ha! I like this feeling. So – Ecocide. From what I know from the International Criminal Court and Den Hague, it seems rather weak, lengthy procedures and only a few human rights abusers are tried there. And it seems to make a big difference whether some big states like them or not.” Polly: “Well, there’s a lot going on in Den Hague that’s invisible to the public. And it is not only about the big cases of presidents and genocide in Rwanda. The special thing about the ICC is that also individual citizens can bring in reports about human rights abuses, and the ICC will start making investigations. Indeed, the past four cases, were hand-written letters from African tribes. So, there’s a lot going on that can make significant change, the more people understand how to use this new system. Last year, four thousand cases were brought in, and two thousand went to court.” Eric: “Oh, I didn’t know this. This is excellent. So, we people really have to understand and learn what the ICC is all about. We are all new to this. OK, so let’s focus on this super big thing for the planet – what’s Ecocide and in how far does its place in the ICC make a difference for the world?” Polly: “You see, so far, environmental destruction is sort of a bi-product, and the companies pay
some money to clean up afterwards. No one goes to jail.” Eric: “Right. And often the managers and CEOs of the time aren’t even there, any more, have changed companies. Then, – a CEO doesn’t even have that much power because there are hundreds, or thousands of invisible share-holders who are unaccountable and don’t give a damn.” Polly: “That’s it. Let me share on example. A few years ago, the Bank of Scotland, a private bank, broke down in the financial crisis. It was bailed out with tax money, to avoid greater economic loss for the nation, and now belongs to 84% to citizens. At one shareholder meeting, a huge ecocidal project was addressed, financed by the bank. I said ‚but you can’t do that. You are destroying the entire region. That’s ecocide!’ And the CEO laughed back, almost surprised at my outrage ‚Well, what are you upset about? It’s not a crime!’ And half of the shareholders were also laughing.” Eric: “Awful.”
Eic: “Do you think it will make a difference this fast?” Polly: “We have a good example. When slavery was still legal in the United States, everyone was perfectly OK with it. Because the authorities and ethical values justified and allowed it. The moment it was forbidden, it became a crime overnight. Everyone involved in it, took their fingers off, instantly, and the slave traders changed to shipping consumer goods, – which turned out to be a much better business, by the way. So, it does happen, quickly.”
Definition of Ecocide: ”The extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.”
Eric: “This sounds plausible. And exciting!” Polly: “It is good that we are touching the bigger picture about this matter. Let me share three more important aspects.” Eric: “Yes, please.” Polly:“ Germany. After World War II, the Nuremberg Trials were the first ones ever to directly put on trial state leaders. For the genocide. And along the decision-makers were put on trial those that made it possible. For example the head sof the company that built the trains transporting jews to the extermination camps.” Eric: “This means the people financing Ecocide will just as much be held accountable on trial.” Polly: “Correct. And while the Nuremberg trials were a one time thing, the ICC is for good, now. There is an important thing about what happened in Germany back then. And that is that the people were disempowered to deal with the matter of genocide happening. They did not even have a word for it: Genocide.” Eric: “Nor was it sanctioned. Just like war was an acceptant means of politics.”
Make this your first of learning about a legal definition. Polly explains. You'll love it! THE DEFINITION: http://youtu.be/NwQ82ZQJ6Hk WEBSITE: www.eradicatingecocide.com
Polly: “A similar situation of disempowerment is faced all over the world by indigenous people. And by outraged environmentalists. This is now changing.” Eric: “I see. This is very deep and important. And powerful.” Polly: “The third aspect is that these are crimes come under Trusteeship Law, which implies ‘Direct Liability’. Let me take a step back to explain this. Today’s dilemma roots in the fact that the Earth is considered, in law, a thing. On an inert thing, you can impose a value, in Dollars, make it a commodity. It falls under Property Law. A Living Being, on the other hand, be it a human or the Earth, has intrinsic value. This implies Responsibility, and places it under Trusteeship Law. And Ecocide is placed under Trusteeship Law.This makes a big difference, because of ‘Direct Liability’. You cannot buy yourself out of it, and a court case does not address an entity, like a company. It addresses the person responsible for decisions that led to the crime. This already exists, we’re not inventing anything new. These are cases when the CEOs are held personally accountable. Or they face jail. So,this is why they put everything in line to make sure it damn well won’t happen.” Eric: “I understand. OK. So, they are well used to this, and it will simply be applied to an additional sphere. When they mess up ‚places elsewhere’.” Polly: “Right. And when someone proposes another random oil drilling or gold mining in the Amazon, they will say ‚I leave my hands off that. Are you crazy? That’s a crime.” Eric: “Polly… wow!” All shining eyes and smiles, my vision is opening for a world where devastation is a thing of the past. I see a web of protection flung around the Earth.
The Trial was held and it was exciting! The CEO’s of companies involved in Tar Sand Oil Etxraction have been found guilty and convicted! THE FULL TRIAL is available for vewing in this www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFB4F5595F6740619 Read the Guardian Newspaper’s coverage www.guardian.co.uk/environment/damian-carringtonblog/2011/sep/29/ecocide-oil-criminal-court
Well, for one day only we shall find out. On the 30th of September the Ecocide trial will take place in the UK’s Supreme Court, our top court of the land. Real barristers and a judge will test the new law of Ecocide. A jury will decide the outcome. It will be live-streamed across the world by internet and you can watch it live. What are the charges? It could be one of the following ecocides: * arctic drilling * deforestation * oil spill * fracking * mining * deep sea mining * unconventional tar sand extraction * peat-land removal
View the trial's summary at http://youtu.be/FHCRIgvPgxM
Ecocide: â€œThe extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.â€? The United Nations (abbreviated UN in English, and ONU in French and Spanish), is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace.
The International Criminal Court (commonly referred to as the ICC or ICCt) is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression The deterioration of the natural environment leads to scarcety of resources, - economically, ecologocally, culturally and spiritually, and ultimately to conflict. Consequently, the preservation of a healthy environment, makes direct part of the United Nations' member states' duty of ensuring, achieving and maintaining peace. And the International Criminal Court ICC is its legal instrument.
Each day 100 living species become extinct, 1,000 acres of peat bogs are excavated and 150,000 acres of tropical rainforest are destroyed. Each day, 2 million tons of toxic waste is dumped in to our rivers and seas, 22 million tons of oil are extracted and 100 million tons of greenhouse gases are released. Today large scale habitat destruction, massive soil depletion, extensive deforestation lead to worldwide disruption of natural cycles and the irreversibility of extinction.
Examples of ascertainable ecocide affecting sizeable territories include:
* the Athabasca Oil Sands in northeastern Alberta, Canada * the deforestation of the Amazonian rainforest * water pollution
Today instances of mass extinction occur with greater frequency, greater rapidity and greater impact than at any other time. At 1,000% of the natural rate. This destruction, damage and loss comes at an enormous cost. A recent report for the United Nations has found that 3,000 of the worldâ€™s biggest corporations caused $2.2 trillion of ecocide in 2008 alone. Read more at http://climateandcapitalism.com/?p=1806
By legally defining Ecocide two aspects can be addressed: Firstly, to halt the flow of destruction at source, create a preemptive duty on corporate activity to prohibit the mass damage and destruction to ecosystems from the outset.
primarily arising out of corporate damaging and destructive activity which is primarily governed by ineffectual and nominal civil legislation. In the case of non-ascertainable ecocide (other causes – eg. tsunami, rising sea levels – climate change driven) there is currently no coherent international mechanism in place to help territories that are rendered unable to self-govern and are in need of emergency assistance. Instead, we deal with each disaster on a ‘case by case’ basis after the event.
By making ecocide an international crime on par with genocide it creates a powerful pre-emptive obligation and preventative measure that would render those in a superior position of responsibility – CEO’s, heads of state and heads of financial institutions – at risk of incarceration where they are responsible for taking decisions that lead to, support or finance mass damage, destruction or loss of ecosystems. By leveraging a criminal sanction of imprisonment against natural persons, not legal fictional entities, the cycle of destruction and accrual of silent rights (the right to pollute, the right to destroy habitat etc) by corporations can be broken. In so doing, the protection of interests shifts, from those few who have ownership/contractual rights to a given territory to the protection of the interests of the many who are suffering the loss of their peaceful right to enjoyment of their territory that has been subjected to or is at risk of ecocide. Secondly, the issue of what mechanisms can be used to implement a duty of care for communities at risk of ecocide, such as Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Maldives etc: By legally defining ecocide, the currently defunct UN Trusteeship Council can be restored to impose a legal duty of care on all Member states for those territories adversely affected by ecocide (whether it be ascertainable or non-ascertainable) which in turn has rendered them non-self-governing.
Shell oil extraction and gas flaring cause widespread devastation in the Niger Delta, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Farmland production is down to a bare minimum, sickness, birth defects, human rights abuses and killings by the military are rampant. Some respond with terrorism. A law on ecocide can prevent and end this. http://youtu.be/OeuN-Oxz4hY
Find out more about Polly’s proposal to the United Nations for the Crime of Ecocide at thisisecocide.com
The International Criminal Court was formed in 2002 to prosecute individuals for breaches of 4 Crimes Against Peace. They are: Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes and Crimes of Aggression. Ecocide has been proposed by Polly Higgins to the UN Law Commission as: Ecocide the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished. The Crime of Ecocide Ecocide can arise out of human intervention: Heavy extraction, toxic dumping, mining and deforestation are all examples of mass ecocide. The Law of Ecocide will stop damaging and destructive activity. Voluntary corporate governance, market trading and offset mechanisms have failed. By creating a Law of Ecocide we will create specific legally binding duties and responsibilities. Ecocide is a crime of consequence. e.g where an energy company procures its energy by extracting fossil fuel, as opposed to creation from renewable energy, that would result in ecocide.
Ecocide is not a crime of intent. CEOâ€™s do not sit in their offices plotting to destroy the Earth. It is a consequence of the pursuit of profit
which arises out of destructive activity. Ecocide creates a pre-emptive obligation. It stops the damage before it happens. A duty of reasonable care is put in place, ensuring that individual and collective (corporate, governmental and armies) responsibility is taken by those who have contractual rights over a given territory before damage or destruction of a given territory takes place. Ecocide is preventative. It is a crime focused on preventing harm, rather than focusing on blame. This means that standards of conduct and care will be punishable in criminal court of law if and when breached. Ecocide protects the peopleâ€™s interests. The emphasis shifts from the protection of the few (corporate) to the protection of the wider Earth community â€“ that means both people and planet gain. Ecocide is a tool to enforce restorative justice. Instead of paying fines, restoration becomes the name of the game. Extensive restoration by those who have committed Ecocide will ensure that appropriate remedy is put in place, not merely the payment of a fine which is all too easily factored in as an external cost by those evading their responsibilities.
Ecocide creates responsibilities at international and national level. Primary responsibility to prevent, investigate and punish the crime of Ecocide sits first and foremost with the country where the activity takes place. Where a crime of Ecocide has taken place on a given territory, and that country is unwilling or unable to take action, then the crime will come under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. By implementing Ecocide as a crime at international level, the pressure is immediately created for the crime to be speedily implemented at national level. Itâ€™s a very effective top-down approach. Ecocide sends a powerful global message to the world, not just to those involved in business or during war, to take responsibility for the well being of all life. Towards a Culture of Peace.
God kings and violent atrocities were socially accepted over millenia. In Rome's arenas, people enjoyed themselves watching war captives and slaves hacking each other into pieces, and - better even, women and children being devoured alive by wild beasts. Preferably Christian ones. Racism, slavery, genocide and war were widely accepted until a few decades ago, are they are still accepted in some states, even today. Those who were opposed to genocide did not even have a name or concept to verbalise their contempt and hold offenders accountable. Today, slavery, genocide and war are considered a crime against peace and humanity, and have become morally unthinkable for most people. Yet, not everyone. Many still consider people of different culture, gender or age inferior and their subjugation and exploitation rightful. In medieval times, lords held the right to the first night with the bride. Many private households today still hold people like slaves. They rape or sell family members.
Others still stone teenagers or cut off pieces of their babies' genitals because they believe the Bible or Qur'an says so. The Conference of Islamic scholars has taken a lead step among religions of issueing a Fatwa against 'cutting', stating it is actually a sacriledge against God to willfully disfigure a human body, - since it is 'created equal in the face of God'. Will the others follow? A European national court has ruled cutting illegal since the child's right against physical harm overweighs parents cultural rights. It takes time to change old and ugly cultural patterns. The unbridled exploitation and devastation of huge ecosystems for industry and profit has long been accepted. Conscientious, outraged people had diffculty verbalising their sound position, especially about the Global Commons, like forests, water ecosystems and the atmosphere, which 'belong to no one', though truly they belong 'to everyone'. This is now changing. Ecocide is the term and concept that names, outlaws and puts
a cultural stigma on this crime against peace. Once it becomes a law, soon after it becomes morally unthinkable.It enters cultural conscience. But it takes TIME. This is why it is important to disseminate the cultural and legal idea of ecocide. The protection of the environment, of ecosystems, local populations, also indigenous people, have already entered United Nations charters, mainstream awareness and also education. Ecosystem destruction is considered not ok at all. This is excellent news. The next step is the cultural, social and legal agreement. Today's cultural constellation and sustainability-oriented education curricula enable the treatment of Ecocide at school. The application of the principle of Ecocide on "Local Commons" like school grounds (against vandalism) adds great meaning and context to learning programs of today. We discussed it. Polly loves it! One big step today is to establish the CULTURAL awareness about ecocide in schools. And it's easy. Find out how.
Eric: „Polly, my big question always is – how do we take this to scale? How tell and involve and empower the people? Many students participate in Model United Nations exercises. Little known so far are the Model International Criminal Court simulations held with law in school student. What do you think about making Ecocide another matter treated by university students in their ‚Model International Criminal Court’ meetings? “ Polly: „Of course. That’s an excellent idea! I am going to contact them, right away, since we are holding a mock trial in the Supreme Court, with very prominent UK barristers, in the end of September 2011. It will be live streamed on the internet. A must-see for everyone interested in the matter of global laws for protecting the Earth.“
Eric: „This is exciting. This should be promoted to universities and activists around the globe. Do you have a press release that our thousands of members and readers can use to promote it in their law schools, hubs and other places?“ Polly: „I can sure provide you with that. The Ecocide website offers good, clear information to study the topic before the trial. I am off to New Zealand for observing a major ecocide, so please give me a few days.“ Eric: „New Zealand? I know of Australia being the country with the fastest rainforest destruction in terms of %age.“ Polly: „Oh, New Zealand is having its own stunning story, right now. In order to get rid of possums, the government is littering the country from the sky with pellets – containing poison. So the possums die when eating them.“ Eric: “And – it is only the possums eating them? This sounds – very stupid.“ Polly: “Of course, even horses are dying. And it goes into waterways… everything is being posioned. This is real, large-scale ecocide.“ Eric: “Unbelievable.“ Polly:“The Maori actually offered taking care of the possums. They have ways for controlling them. They have done so in the past.“ Eric: “My fantasy film coined imagination sees hundreds of Maori warriors hunting possums cross country, showing up their government’s special
agent possum hunting passes. I guess it’s different. How is this happening?“ Polly: „I don’t know, yet. Give me two weeks, and I’ll let you know.“ Eric: „It would be awesome to have a case study of whatever district, where the studies show numbers have dropped after the Maori did whatever they do. That should pretty much clear the way.“ Polly: „We’ll see in two weeks.“ Eric: „Ok. An idea comes to mind how to connect Ecocide already in schools. They have tolerance, human rights, ethics, ecology, and I see a great way for sonftly entering Ecocide, also. Polly: “I can’t wait to hear it.“ Eric: „See, many schools have classroom rules. Others have school gardens and green learnscapes. In all cases, they include sanctions, what happens when people break the rules. This includes collective and human rights, so to say, in the classroom, – and it includes environmental matters on the school grounds. Since those beautiful gardens make possible and enhance the collective harmony, well-being and community as a ‚spectrum of peace’, its destruction for sure diminishes and disturbs peace. From this point of view, it
relates directly with what the United Nations’s priority goal of peace is about.” Polly: “Yes, I also see the point. It is indeed a transfer of the same principle.“ Eric: „Since such activities are already in place in many schools, adding a single item of discussion and reflection – ‚the relevance of an intact ecological environment for maintaining peace’ – is easy to do. It is just like adding another topic circle to their core curriculum, like you do at the ICC. This additional aspect takes the mind and what they do on a small scale to the bigger, global arena, – which everybody is aware of at times, and suffers from feeling disempowered. We can use both the recent Nobel Prize and Ecocide as a reference for the bigger picture. This has high educational value, and connects to the bigger picture outside the school fence.“ Polly: „Excellent. Also the trial will be available via the web and dvds. Our videos explaining Ecocide are also well received. This law is easily understood.“ Eric: „Wonderful, it is all in place. I love that. Can people connect with you, so you join, in case they produce mock trials at other law schools in the world? It’s really the best and a very exciting training they can do.“ Polly: „University students can have their own trials, yes. They don’t need me joining in to do
it. That’s the good thing about it. It can be spread, scaled and replicated by other people. I have tried everything from my side to make this possible.“ Eric: „I would like to see university students do soemthing relevant, something real ‚out there’. For example, they could come with the banner of Ecocide and seek a regional issue of ecocide. They can connect with civil society organisations and really add new momentum and recognition to their campaign. New juice for the media. It reminds me of when our team members connect with authorities in their countries. UNESCO-project; this opens doors.“ Polly: “Good idea, indeed. The United Nations can make a real difference.“ Eric: „I already see school children addressing local environmental issues
with big banners in their hands claiming this is Ecocide. Politicians and adults laughing at them, and the kids saying „Mr. Mayor, watch out, it’s already coming into the picture.“
garden, for example. This is awesome. It offers great ways for many people to bring avantgarde thinking into schools.“
Polly: „Yes, nice. I’d like to see this, too.“
Eric: „I usually apply a simple example of the Commons that resonates well with people. Oceans, forests, public space etc sort of belong to no one, or everyone, and therefore no one respects them, dumps their garbage etc. While it should be the other way round, really. You can decide how to or not to tidy up your own room, but you have to respect the shared living room.“
Eric: „Polly, speaking of the bigger picture, this is really about The Global Commons.“ Polly: „Exactly. Protecting the Global Commons is what it is about.“ Eric: „This is beautiful. The issue of Global Commons, likewise an issue of ‚lack of terminology’ are yet not in the education sector. But Ecocide offers a great way of adding it with ease, and just a few sentences. Rules, sanctions around the school
Polly: „Yes, I am happy to hear this.“
Polly: „That’s a good, simple way of putting it. Fit for school kids, adults, – and Ecocide helps transfer this to larger scale.“ Eric: „Even the old sanction of ‚You’ll stay in your room’ is equivalent to a jail sentence. I am sure they understand the concept.“ Polly: "It's the same concept, indeed. Everyone understand this." Eric: „May I include your interview in our series of Youth-Leaders and Adult Changemakers for school use? We have everything it needs: Portrait, interview, videos, action, school activities…
Polly: „Oh, I’ll be honoured.“ Eric: „Great. Polly, thank you so much. I feel deeply uplifted and inspired with hope that such large scale change is in sight.“ Polly: „Same, Eric. Thank you for the inspiring avenues for taking Ecocide into education. Your way of thinking is very rare. Let’s stay in touch.“ Eric: “We sure will.” We had some more fun, chatting, exchanging high valuable links, sharing about our paths as a changemaker. If we meet some day around the fire place, I might share some. of it. Maybe some day joining Polly on a home treck following ancient trails in the magnificient Highlands of Scotland?
Polly has been voted as one of the “Worlds Top 10 Visionary Thinkers,” been named “The Planet’s Lawyer”, was identified as one of the top “unreasonable people” in the world and hailed as Green Heroine working for the right kind of environmental change.
You can read more about the proposal in Eradicating Ecocide: Laws and Governance to Prevent the Destruction of our Planet, available to buy in bookshops and on Amazon.
1. Join the campaign at www.thisisecocide.com. Sign the Avaaz petition. 2. Polly is part of our The Grand Changemakers Special Edition and Poster Series. Use it to inform the public so they can get involved. Use posters and this article at green and youth events. Promote Ecocide in law schools, too! 3. Share your knowledge with everyone! Serious. Share this article through links, facebook and direct mail. People will be inspired as you are. Downloads via www.youth-leader.org/special-editions.html 4. Apply in schools and share with local media, politics and organisations. 5. Check for a version in your language. Germany has its own page at www.oekozid.org created by a volunteer! 6. Can you do this for your language? Spanish, for example, will cover an entire hemisphere with a lot of potential supporters and many indigenous tribes that need this legal tool! Also Hindi will make a huge difference. Tens of millions of Chinese affected by dams and pollution may be highly interested... and french activists looking to clean up their nation's investment in ecocide. Think of Japan, Fukushima, Russia, it's needed everywhere! 7. Is this what you want for your future? Ready to help? Contact us!
Protect this from becoming this.
Polly's friends have uncovered official United Nations documents which considered making Ecocide part of the International Criminal Court from the beginning! Some nations have already added Ecocide to their National law! The step to making Ecocide a global law is getting closer and we can all help it! Polly is whirling like a whirlwind, and her team of volunteers has produced a YOUTH GUIDE to Ecocide Campaigning. Did you ever long to see Earth protected? Did you ever wish an end to destruction? Did you ever feel the bad guys belong in jail? Then this cause is for you! can join in promoting Ecocide in your national parliaments, local councils, among citizens, organisations, lobby groups, schools ... and make history by making
ecocide a Crime.
"I recently used some YL articles as examples of exciting and interesting topics they could focus on. Through the magazine the students are able to explore different ideas and ways of thinking-they were particularly motivated after seeing some stories on the YL website."
Teachers. "I have been seeking such young heroes throughout my teaching career. I need those for all my classes. For global learning, on ethical values, youth self image..." "I would think that for school-age kids around the world, this would be an eye-opener!" "As a teacher, I am sure that this will appeal to everyone age 12 and up. People like Ameena would be wonderful role models for them - the earlier we start, the better!" "As a teacher it makes me feel incredibly happy to read such inspiring and incredible articles about young people being proactive and making a difference in the world." "I introduced the ideas to my English class. They researched the topics and people discussed in small groups and fed back to the rest of the class. It was the most energized lessons I have ever taught and even the students who are usually quiet had something to say!"
And Youth? See for yourself!
"These posters are excellent! I like the idea of posting them in school so all students see them, and develop their own interest in treating the subject of youth participation in schools." "In our school, an active youth group is keeping sustainability education alive through their projects. The wall display and materials will help them become more visible and motivate their fellow students. I will see them through the first steps. Thank you for the great project!"
Superstars. "Positive News. Brilliant." Bill Drayton, Founder and CEO, Ashoka. "Your thinking is very rare." Polly Higgins, Earth Lawyer, This is Ecocide Campaign, Top 10 Visionary Thinkers on the Planet "You are so prolific that I can hardly keep up with you. I found it astounding - so comprehensive and full of new learning for me." Nancy Roof, Editor, Kosmos Journal
Okay, Schools. It is said that it is difficult to get into state schools. WRONG. With YL, everyone can! A) This can be introduced informally. Even as wall display, without classroom use. YL has UNESCO status. That's the High Priests of all school directors. Who dare say it's of no use for education? B) There's One Good Teacher in every school. S/he will love it. C) Movements for Global Learning, Peace Education, Intercultural Learning, Education for Sustainable Development, Human Rights, Citizenship Education, Service Learning, youth leadership, student centered learning, project-oriented learning, entrepreneurship are booming, have entered o ff i c i a l c u r r i c u l a e v e r y w h e r e . D) Students can even build on YL's UNESCO status for ESD and argue, hard if needed. "We are in the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, the single greatest priority of our century. The Secretary-General
of the UN says it is us, the young generation, that will lead to oblivion or success. As long as ESD is not formally integrated to its fullest in classrooms, - with cross-displinary entrepreneurial practice, it is indispensable to make it available informally for students' selforganised learning. If not by everyone, then for those 'highly gifted ones' of us who care, who are empathic and display everything that's wanted of Good Youth. We are the future social entrepreneurs and cultural creatives who are going to fix the system. We are not waiting until we have no more time. As a student, we have the duty to attend school, - but also a right to proper education in congruence with school's purpose of shaping active citizens co-shaping a sustainable society. We do not ask your permission. We demand your help so we can learn to shape the world we wish to see. A Wall Display with 'humanity's best', publicity of youth leadership and youth action clubs are minimum for a 21st century school."
Here's how easy this can be applied in class:
E) Each parent, student or activist can reach to that Good Teacher or Action Club.
And for anything that is PEACE
Simply assign one profile to each students as homework - to give a presentation in the next lesson. With storytelling, poster and video. It is going to floor the class no different from readers around the globe. It is going to be one of the most fascinating sessions ever. Students will be inspired and fired up to take action. MISSION ACHIEVED. No matter what the teacher's formal frameworks allow, students can follow up their impulses by studying more, by taking actions, by taking the poster exhibit and video loops to the entire school and start a conversation. And they can tap into YL streams of changemaker news to print, post and manage a Good News Wall Display, as a power spot for exchange and community building in school. They can involve their school's action clubs or form new ones, even join a growing global network of YL Clans and Tribes. What's needed is a spark of Inspiration. - this is it!
a bright new world is happening