NPJC Annual Report for 2012

If it's the last thing you do this year, please make sure you're an up to date member of the Nashville Peace and Justice Center for 2013! All we want for Christmas is a lot more members and a few good donors! Please send in $25 for regular membership, $45 for family membership or $10 if you're a senior or student or have a low income. If you are not already a member, have changed some of your contact information or would like to be a sustaining donor, please go to our website (www.nashvillepeacejustice.org) and print out the membership form. Mail checks and forms to the Nashville Peace and Justice Center, 530 N. 26th St., Nashville, TN 37209.

To convince you that your participation will indeed help bring about peace, justice and sustainability, here is a summary of 2012's activities - encouraging and assisting Tennesseans to become ever more active, informed and thoughtful citizens.

Two of our accomplishments this year were the creation of a new brochure and a new facebook page. Our weekly “Eblast” publicizes many progressive events and meetings, helping individuals become involved with the causes they feel most passionate about, and helping organizations reach out to new individuals.

We held our NPJC ANNUAL MEETING in April and our annual week of Peace, Justice and Sustainability in September. The main event of the week was the PICNIC FOR PEACE, PROSPERITY AND THE PLANET. Several dozen progressive organizations had booths at the picnic, which featured healthy, organic food, recycling and composting, great music and informative and inspirational speakers.

During the Week, our keynote speaker, Medea Benjamin, gave presentations on her latest book, Drone Warfare, at Lipscomb University in Nashville, MTSU in Murfreesboro and The Farm in Summertown. She also presided over the annual regional conference of CodePinkTN, one of our member groups. We held a benefit to raise funds for Medea and several dozen other Americans to travel to Pakistan to demonstrate with Pakistanis against the use of drones in their country.

In December, NPJC had its annual Holiday House Party to celebrate our achievements and those of Community Shares.


SUPPORT FOR ORGANIZATIONS

We provide meeting space for our member groups, including Amnesty International, The National Organization for Women and the Nashville Peace Coalition. The Tennessee Alliance for Progress is the group which makes the most use of our office at the Meeting House. We continue to be the fiscal sponsor for Occupy Nashville. The Occupy Nashville Housing Group has become an independent organization meeting at the Friends Meeting House.


ROUNDTABLES

In order to become more informed, thoughtful and effective citizens, we hold a monthly Roundtable to discuss the most urgent issues of the day and to make plans for appropriate action. We invite leaders and experts to share their insights on these topics.

This year, many of our Roundtables focussed on international issues.

Kathy Kelly reported on her recent trip to Afghanistan. The Fellowship of Reconciliation spnsored a presentation by a youngColumbian War Resistor. We hosted Pastors for Peace on their way to Cuba. An American journalist recounted his experiences in Spain his participation in the Occupy movement there.

Other Roundtables centred on the environment, the economy and the political process: The “Energy and Green Jobs” Roundtable featured our member groups TAP and Transition Nashville as well as the Mayor's Office. NPJC and Veterans for Peace cosponsored the annual supper and presentation on the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance.

At the “What Is Occupy Nashville?” Roundtable, members of the various Occupy working groups described their activities. The panelists on the “Report from Chicago” Roundtable had protested the NATO and G8 Summits. Carolyn Cottom spoke on “Lobbying from the Heart”. “Human Rights in Tennessee” was cosponsored by NPJC and TIRRC – the speaker was on a Bike Ride for Human Rights. “To the New Economy” was the title of the August Roundtable. We invited all of the major parties and many of the smaller ones to our Election Forum. Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, Socialists and Anarchists answered our questions on the major issues of the day.


NPJC TABLES AND BOOTHS

In order to reach out to all kinds of people who may never have considered being active citizens, NPJC participates in community events all over Nashville. NPJC marched on MLK Day with Occupy participants calling for better treatment for TSU. After the last Occupiers were evicted from Legislative Plaza in March, we continued to exercise our free speech rights by helping to maintain an information table on the Plaza.

We had booths at Centennial Park on Earth Day, at the Flatrock Festival (with literature from the Progreso Community Center), at Bonnarroo, (with Peace Roots Alliance), at Pride Day (with Americans United for Separation of Church and State), at the African Street Festival and at Celebrate Nashville in Centennial Park (with the United Nations Association). Many of the volunteers at the booths were young adults. At each booth, we asked people to finish either the sentence “Corporations are not people because. . .” or “I'd like to live in a world where. . .” on a dry/erase board. These opportunities to express opinions and to imagine a better world were very popular, as were our activities for families and children.

We also tabled at the Belmont Community Fair, where we added many students to our contact list, and at a Human rights Day event at the North Police Precinct.


ON THE STREETS

The Nashville Peace and Justice Center has a long tradition of bearing witness to its values through protests, vigils and demonstrations. NPJC, Occupy and others demonstrated at the downtown Wells Fargo Bank, calling for divestment from the Corrections Corporation of America.

At a benefit piano concert at Edgehill United Methodist Church, Occupy participants announced the upcoming national “Occupy the Courts Day” in opposition to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision giving corporations the rights of persons. Many older people who had attended the benefit concert participated in the march and the “Corporate Military Machine” skit.

NPJC held teach-in about Iran at Legislative Plaza for Occupy participants and a vigil opposing U.S. Military intervention in Iran. NPJC activists and Occupiers participated in the “It's OK to Say Gay” vigils, attended the Rally at the State House for decent jobs for Tennessee's higher education faculties and staffs and wore hoodies in the rally mourning the slaying of Trevon Martin.

In March, after the passage of a new law against camping on state property, NPJC and Occupy activists dismantled most of the Occupy encampment and moved equipment to a Storage Unit. They maintained a vigil with the last Occupiers who were courting arrest in order to challenge the constitutionality of the new law, which criminalized homelessness. In April, On Palm Sunday, more than 60 students from Vanderbilt, Belmont and Lipscomb Universities, as well as activists and homeless people, defied the law and slept on Legilative Plaza at the end of a “Right to Exist Day” of service to homeless people.

On May 1st, “May Day”, the Service Employees International Union, representatives from other local unions, Occupy Vanderbilt and Occupy Nashville held a day-long series of activities, including a picnic-teach-in, a march and rally for Vanderbilt employees, a gathering in front of the City Court House and a torch-light march through downtown Nashville.

NPJC and Occupy activists, as a part of a national day of protests against the military industrial complex, demonstrated at the Caterpillar Financial offices, protesting their complicity in the destruction of Palestinian homes. Medea Benjamin's presentation at MTSU was followed by a demonstration against its new drone curricullum. We also held anti-drone vigils at Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities, during speaches by military officers on those campuses. We held an Anti-Austerity vigil in support of workers here and in Europe and participated, along with many people from the Middle East, in a rally for peace in Gaza and Israel.

Soon we will be holding our 2013 Annual Membership Meeting to set goals and priorities for the coming year. Please become a member of NPJC and participate in whatever ways are appropriate for you. Attend meetings and events, join committees, donate if you can. And have a very productive and Happy 2013!